north AFL

North Melbourne Season Predictions

Ins: Blake Drury (Rookie Draft), Hamish Free (Rookie Draft), Brayden George (NAB Draft, Pick 26), Cooper Harvey (NAB Draft, Pick 56, Father-Son), Daniel Howe (Rookie Draft), Griffin Logue (Trade, Fremantle), Harry Sheezel (NAB Draft, Pick 3), Liam Shiels (Pre-Season Supplemental Selection Period), Darcy Tucker (Trade, Fremantle), George Wardlaw (NAB Draft, Pick 4)

Outs: Jed Anderson (Delisted), Atu Bosenavulagi (Delisted), Kyron Hayden (Delisted), Jason Horne-Francis (Trade, Port Adelaide), Tom Lynch (Retired), Matt McGuinness (Delisted), Jared Polec (Delisted), Josh Walker (Delisted), Patrick Walker (Delisted)

Draw: Based on the new weighted draw brought in for the 2023 season, North Melboune statistically have the 6th easiest draw. The Kangaroos will face Essendon, Gold Coast, Hawthorn, Melbourne, St Kilda and West Coast twice throughout the season.

Forwards: Calllum Coleman-Jones, Charlie Comben, Paul Curtis, Jacob Edwards*, Eddie Ford, Brayden George, Nick Larkey, Charlie Lazzaro, Jack Mahony, Harry Sheezel, Phoenix Spicer, Jaidyn Stephenson, Jack Ziebell, Cameron Zurhaar

Midfielders: Ben Cunnington, Luke Davis-Uniacke, Blake Drury*, Hugh Greenwood, Daniel Howe*, Will Phillips, Tom Powell, Liam Shiels*, Jy Simpkin, Curtis Taylor, Tarryn Thomas, Darcy Tucker, George Wardlaw

Rucks: Hamish Free*, Todd Goldstein, Tristan Xerri

Defenders: Jackson Archer, Miller Bergman, Aiden Bonar, Aidan Corr, Kallan Dawson*, Josh Goater, Aaron Hall, Griffin Logue, Luke McDonald, Ben McKay, Flynn Perez, Bailey Scott, Kayne Turner*, Lachie Young

* Indicates rookie/long-term injury listed player

Ones to watch: Luke Davis Uniacke looked like he could explode into a superstar at times in 2022, could this be the year everything comes together for him? Inspirational leader, Ben Cunnington will be one to watch in 2023 as he returns from his second bout of testicular cancer. Cunnington is the heart and soul of North Melbourne and the team will only be stronger in 2022, with his on-field leadership and contested ball-winning ability a standout amongst the competition.

Strengths: Although getting into the latter part of his career, Todd Goldstein proved last year he is still one of the best ruckmen in the game. Combine him with an up-and-coming Tristan Xerri, who is yet to reach his peak and North have a ruck combination to seriously look forward to this year. Their forward line may lack the star quality of some other sides but with the likes of Nick Larkey, Cam Zurhaar and Jack Ziebell (if he plays forward), they can often kick a winning score.. The Kangaroos have managed to recruit the best coach of the modern era in Clarkson. Don’t expect miracles straight away, but bringing in serious training standards and discipline will allow the young North side to develop long-term.

Weaknesses: Their Kangaroos midfield is clearly lacking one or two genuine stars to help some of the young talent in the engine room currently.  Unfortunately, without Cunnington in 2022 their young midfield was often bullied around stoppages, especially by some of the bigger bodies of the top clubs. With Cunnington looking to split his time between forward/midfield this year, the likes of LDU and Jy Simpkin will have to take their game to the next level. Their defence also struggled many times in 2022. Their ability to attack from the backline through Aaron Hall is great, however, time and time again the Kangaroos defence was beaten one on one. Hopefully for the Roos faithful, Clarkson will bring some consistency and team defence to stop the goals on the quick transition, as they looked like a training drill in some games last year.

General thoughts: Don’t expect any miracles from this young North Melbourne side just yet. They have picked up several players that will jump straight into their best 22, but probably won’t peak for at least 2-3 years. Players such as Griffin Logue, Darcy Tucker and Liam Shiels will be super-important for the young North Melbourne side as they’ll add experience and depth, something which they struggled with at times throughout the 2022 season.

Coach Pressure Gauge: 0.5/10 – Alistair Clarkson could head into the bye 0-12 and still have the club and board backing him 100%. His record speaks for itself and he knows this will not be a quick fix with a young and average list.

Breakout year: Will Phillips, Tom Powell

B&F Winner: Ben Cunnington

Fantasy relevant:

Luke Davis Uniacke – $824,000 – Mid

Ben Cunnington – $668,000 – Mid/Fwd

Tom Powell – $492,000 – Mid/Fwd

George Wardlaw – $294,000 – Mid

Will Phillips – $270,000 – Mid

Finishing spot prediction: 16th

Brody is the founder and head of content at Straya Sports. A self-confessed sporting tragic, Brody has covered (and played) nearly every sport imaginable on a variety of different media platforms.

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