There will be several familiar faces in orange and black this Saturday as the NPL All Stars take on the Brisbane Roar in a blockbuster double-header at Perry Park.
Former Olympic FC winger Jez Lofthouse and ex-Gold Coast United midfielder Ayesha Norrie are two of the players to join the Roar after impressive displays in the NPL Queensland this season.
Norrie, 24, will line up for her fifth season with the Roar after stints with Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory.
After a season in the NPL Women’s which earned her a Player of the Year nomination, she joins a new-look squad stacked with talent from Queensland’s top league, including the likes of Lanni McDougall, Shea Connors, Cannon Clough, Rie Kitano and Meaghan McElligott.
“They’ve stepped up in the NPL and now just have to step up in the A-League Women,” said Norrie.
“I think they’ll do well. They’ve got to prove themselves, which they’ve already been doing in training.”
Likewise, Lofthouse has been training and playing in the Roar Men’s side alongside former NPL players such as Cyrus Dehmie, Alex Parsons, Josh Brindell-South, Jesse Daley and Henry Hore.
The 21-year-old winger has been on the radar for several years, earning himself the nickname “the NPL Messi”.
But Lofthouse said Roar Men’s Head Coach Warren Moon, a former NPL Queensland Coach of the Year, has helped him believe he can cut it at the highest level.
“Mooney’s brought through a few NPL players like myself, and he has given me the freedom to play how I want to play; he’s not restricting me at all,” said Lofthouse.
“With my type of personality, I often feel uncomfortable trialling at new places and coming into new teams.
“But coming to the Roar has been a really smooth transition for me. Everyone has made me feel at home straight away, and obviously knowing some of the boys makes it easier.”
Saturday’s match against the NPL Men’s All Stars will be the final pre-season match for the Roar Men and the first pre-season hit out for the Roar Women, who will be led by QAS Head Coach Garrath McPherson.
“We haven’t played together yet so it will be interesting to see how we gel,” said Norrie, adding that she is looking forward to coming up against her good friend and former Gold Coast United teammate Zoe Corbett.
“Zoe will be on the wing running for days, so we’ll have to be wary of that.”
While the NPL All-Stars Women’s side came away with the victory in 2020, this year’s test might be that much tougher as many of the league’s best players lace up for the A-League Women’s team.
“A number of our Roar players are coming off the back end of the NPL season so everyone will be game fit, so I think we’ll be able to get the job done.”
CLICK HERE for tickets to the NPL All Stars v Brisbane Roar double-header at Perry Park. Gates open 4pm.