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2022 Season Review - North Melbourne

Updated: Aug 27, 2022

Welcome to the 2022 seasons reviews, where we will be reviewing each teams performance throughout the AFL Season, starting with North Melbourne and it was not a pretty season.


Ladder Position: 18th

Wins: 2

Percentage: 55.8%

Season Grade: E

The Highlights

While overall it was a tough season for North Melbourne, there were still some highlights sprinkled through the side. Old man Goldstein once again, showed the comp he is still a premier ruckmen kicking 16 goals and getting 13 touches a game. Ben McKay is one of the better key defenders in the comp in a defence that receives little help. He is a terrific 1v1 defender and ranks #1 for Intercept Marks in the comp. Now while it is easier to take intercept marks when the ball is always entering your defence (Barrass, McGovern and Taylor all rank in the top 5), he has done better than anyone couldve asked. While their guts got smashed most weeks, there were two shining lights within that. The first is Simpkin, who is starting to become a very consistent and solid player and has taken the reigns as the number 1 midfielder at the club. While it has taken some time, LDU showed everyone why he was selected so high and built on his solid 2021 season. He averaged 12 Contested Possies, 5 clearances, 5 score involvements and 5 inside 50s a game. As for the forward line, both Nick Larkey and Cameron Zurhaar averaged 2 goals a game in a side that gave them little support. Hopefully Zurhaar elects to stay for the sake of North. Curtis Taylor also looks to be one for the future. Lastly, Ben Cunnington getting back onto the field was just such a wholesome moment and you cannot help but feel happy for him.

The Lowlights

Unfortunately, there were a lot of lowlights and a 14 game losing streak probably tops the lot. Placing all their faith into an 18 year old who would then fail to meet those created expectations does not help either, especially considering he may end up leaving after one season. Outside of Ben McKay, their defence was putrid with guys like Aaron Hall, Jaidyn Stephenson and Bailey Scott providing little defensive impact while Lachie Young and Aidan Corr did not step up as much as hoped in their second seasons at the club. Their midfield was probably the second worst with Hugh Greenwood having a down year from an offensive standpoint, Will Phillips missing the whole season with glandular and Tarryn Thomas going from looking incredibly promising last season to someone who was completely disinterested this season. I get it must be hard getting belted every week to put in the necessary effort, even when that is still likely not enough but his attitude was outright poor this season. While they did not get to see it as much as other teams, their forward line was also hopeless ranking 4th last on shots at goal per inside 50 at 45% and 44% for goal accuracy which makes them the worst forward line in the comp.

The Offseason

North realistically cannot do a lot. Clarkson is in charge now and he must feel out the list. I see 3 problems. 1 - the lack of depth within this side. 2 - Horne-Francis potentially leaving. 3 - the lack of good talls outside of Larkey, McKay and the ageing Goldstein.

This might be an unpopular opinion but if I would be cutting out the bottom players at our club and instead, look to stronger opposition and try and poach their fringe or on the outer mature aged players who are strong trainers and culture players from an effort standpoint and ideally, hopefully they have some potential. Some players I have identified that could fit the bill are James Rowbottom, Callum & Tyler Brown, Jack Madgen, Ed Curnow, Dyson Heppell (more for leadership), Adam Tomlinson and the number 1 target, a Scott Pendlebury, Trent Cotchin or Joel Selwood(although I doubt either leaves their respective clubs). Now most of these players are not stars, by any stretch but all of them by all accounts are players that can slide into the North lineup for relatively cheap (besides Rowbottom but still ask the question) and should provide the club with more leaders and good trainers. North do not need to target a big fish, I would advise against it and develop the natural way.

Problem 2 and 3 can be discussed together. If Horne-Francis requests a trade, let him leave and demand 2 first round picks from Adelaide and 2 first round picks plus a player from port (Mitch Georgiades or Sam Hayes) and come to an agreement. If he wants to stay, do not force him out by any stretch. The Horne-Francis decision will decide the way North should approach the draft. If Francis leaves, they should hold onto pick number 2 and select an inside mid like Wardlaw (after a bid on Ashcroft) and then use the pick from this years draft on a key position player such as Aaron Cadman or Lewis Hayes. If Horne-Francis does not request a trade, I believe North should split pick number 1 for two picks inside the top 10 or one pick in the top 10 and a future 1 and use the picks on talls. If Horne-Francis stays, North do not need another midfielder as their future is set with JHF, Simpkin, LDU, Phillips and some others on the list that could push for that spot. Their lower picks should be used to mature-aged state league talent or project talls as they will take time and the mature-aged players will make them more competitive.

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