Adding to the trio of Tylah Saunders, Jamal McKenzie and new recruit Daniel Scott-Collings, Nyani Thomas has signed with the Angaston Panthers in the Barossa Light and Gawler Football Association for the 2017 campaign.
“My full name is actually Nyaningu, and I lived at Uluru (Ayers Rock) as a toddler, and that’s where my parents got my name,” Thomas told the Herald.
“We moved to Port Augusta from there and lived in the Kimberley for a short time, before my senior schooling at Brighton High.
“My first passion was basketball and I didn’t start playing footy until I was in my mid teens.”
Thomas, who is a cousin of North Melbourne forward Lindsay, started playing with the Morphettville Park Roos before moving across to Glenelg.
He enjoyed an under 19 premiership with the Bays in 2006, alongside Scott-Collings, and also played reserves football under current Eagles senior coach Michael Godden, in the Tigers’ black and gold.
“I played hoops for the South Adelaide Panthers and back in the day I could dunk,” Thomas said.
“In my draft year I had a serious ankle injury, which forced me onto the sidelines for 18 months and ruined any opportunities.
“I then moved house down to the Semaphore and asked to have a run at Alberton.
“While I didn’t get a game in the seniors, one of the highlights was the SANFL reserves premiership against Sturt in 2010.”
Thomas, played in that flag, alongside fellow aboriginal talents, Peter Lindsay, George Long and siblings Terry and Tim Milera.
And now he is rapt there is a strong indigenous contingent who will be wearing the Panthers’ blue and white this year.
Nyani Thomas, a 189cm, 100kg utility, is now 28 and is keen to play a variety of roles and pinch-hit in the midfield rotations.
For the past three seasons Thomas has played with the Border Districts Football Club, in the expansive Kowree-Naracoorte-Tatiara competition.
The Eagles are based at Frances in the Far South East region of the state, and Thomas conceded that long travel had taken its toll.
Panthers second-year coach Paul Sherwood said Angaston now have the “Fab Four” of Aboriginal talent for the season ahead.
“Nyani brings experience, strength and versatility to the squad,” Sherwood said.
“He was at Glenelg in my last couple of years at the club and had senior involvement at two different clubs.
“We are hoping to use Nyani across half back and half forward, as well as pinch hitting through the middle.
“Along with being a good size, Nyani can take a grab and can run off offensively.”
Angaston’s first game in this year’s campaign is against Nuriootpa on Anzac Day.