After a positive back end to the 2021 season and an impressive haul in the National Draft, there’s a buzz about North Melbourne that hasn’t been felt for many years. Can David Noble’s side begin to push back up the ladder in 2022?
Jack Tobin will be previewing EVERY team in the lead up to the 2022 season, while the BYB AFL crew will be back this year to give their betting tips on every game. Be sure to head to the AFL Tips page for regular updates!
North Melbourne Season Preview
In: Callum Coleman-Jones (Richmond), Hugh Greenwood (Delisted Free Agent), Jason Horne-Francis (Pick 1), Josh Goater (Pick 22), Miller Bergman (Pick 38), Jackson Archer (Pick 59)
Out: Robbie Tarrant (Richmond)
The Kangaroos had a successful off season, prying youngster Callum Coleman-Jones from Richmond to add to their ruck/forward stocks. The Roos secured a generational talent in Jason Horne-Francis at pick 1, while adding a massive x-factor in Josh Goater. Tarrant’s departure will hurt but given where the Roos are at, it provides an opportunity to get more games into some of their younger defenders.
After losing their first eight games by an average margin of 51 points, there were fears if North Melbourne could win a single game in 2021. The Roos picked up wins over Hawthorn, West Coast, Carlton and the Gold Coast, as well as a draw against GWS. Their young core of Jye Simpkin, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Tarryn Thomas and Jaidyn Stephenson began to string some impressive games together. With the likes of Tom Powell, Will Phillips and Horne-Francis in the wings, North Melbourne are building a scary midfield.
North Melbourne’s biggest improvement needs to come from their defence, which was the worst in the AFL last season. The Roos conceded 94 points per game (the most in the AFL) allowing 6 scores over 100 and another 7 scores over 90. Their defence was a large reason as to why they suffered so many blowout losses, with the Roos 17 losses coming by an average margin of 40 points. Aidan Corr will come into the lineup after an injury interrupted 2021, however North Melbourne needs to improve their defensive system drastically.
A big positive for North Melbourne last season was the emergence of their young forwards. Nick Larkey kicked 42 goals, Cameron Zurhaar bagged 31 goals after a low start to the season, and with Coleman-Jones in the forward line this season, there’s plenty of reasons for Roos fans to be excited about.
Coming into David Noble’s second season as senior coach, it’s important we see an identifiable game style out of North Melbourne this season. In 2021 North Melbourne ranked 18th for points against, 17th for points for, 16th for inside 50’s and 14th for tackles. There’s plenty of talent on the list, but there needs to be some serious progress in their game plan this season.
Breakout Player: Callum Coleman-Jones
Coleman-Jones finally strung some games together in 2021 in his third season in the AFL, after being stuck behind the likes of Tom Lynch, Jack Riewoldt, and Mabior Chol. Coleman-Jones played eight games in 2021, before requesting a trade during the offseason, seeking greater opportunities. Coleman-Jones burst onto the scene with four goals on debut against Adelaide and followed it up with two goals in each of his second and third games. Coleman-Jones’ marking ability was a standout, averaging 4 marks per game in his seven completed games. With a settled spot in the North Melbourne side, Coleman-Jones will be able to get consistent opportunities as a focal point in the Kangaroos forward line.
What Do The Kangaroos Need To Do In 2022?
The key for North Melbourne this season is sticking to the process and continuing to get games into their young players. They aren’t under any pressure to win games and challenge for finals, so development must be their priority. Horne-Francis (18), Phillips (19), Powell (19), Thomas (21), Stephenson (23) and Simpkin (23) are all still very early in their careers, so continuing to give these guys consistent opportunities will benefit North Melbourne in a major way.
North Melbourne began to show signs in the back end of 2021 that the rebuild is on track, they competed hard and their young talent in the midfield is begging to be taken notice of. The next step for the Roos is improving their defence so that they aren’t suffering consistent blowout losses like they did in early 2021. Their young core is bigger and more advanced than their fellow bottom four sides from last season, so it’s difficult to see North Melbourne not improving. They won’t be challenging for a position in the top eight, but there’s plenty to like about this North Melbourne side.