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Swallow questions North's toughness and leadership

Nick Bowen  May 27, 2013 2:28 PM

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North captain Andrew Swallow says the club's on-field leaders must lift

You look at the great sides, you look at Sydney, they're up for defence all the time, they really value it and that's what we've really got to start doing
THERE are question marks over North Melbourne's mental toughness, on-field leadership and defensive pressure, Roos captain Andrew Swallow concedes.

Swallow was due to give a press conference at Aegis Park at noon on Monday, but did not emerge from the Roos' post-match review until 1.15pm.

He told the waiting media Sunday's one-point loss to the Crows had left North's playing group the "flattest" he had ever seen it.

Swallow said North coach Brad Scott had delivered some home truths in Monday's meeting, a day after labelling his team mentally weak in his post-match press conference.

But the midfielder said the meeting had primarily dragged on because there were so many key areas from Sunday's game that had needed to be addressed.

Swallow said Scott had tempered occasional anger during the meeting with a methodical assessment of the areas that had contributed to the Roos' inability to bury the Crows after leading by 30 points midway through the final quarter. 

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Swallow declined to identify the Roos' specific failures against the Crows, but said the leadership group bore the ultimate responsibility for North's capitulation, admitting its members had "massively" questioned themselves in the wake of the loss.

"It starts from the top down. Brad will always come in and support us but he's not out there in the game," Swallow said. 

"He can try and move as many blokes around on the field, but it's the blokes who are out there and we've got to take responsibility. 

"We've got some terrific leaders in 'Boomer' (Brent Harvey), 'Drewy' (Drew Petrie), Scotty Thompson, Jack Ziebell and 'Wellsy' (Daniel Wells) - we've got to be the ones who are driving [the playing group]."

Swallow said it was hard to dispute Scott's claim the Roos were mentally weak after opening the 2013 season with four losses by four points or less. 

The skipper also conceded the Roos had failed to deliver on their pre-season pledge to bring a harder defensive edge into 2013. 

"You look at the great sides, you look at Sydney, they're up for defence all the time, they really value it and that's what we've really got to start doing," Swallow said.

But Swallow refuted North great Wayne Carey's criticism on Triple M radio during Sunday's game that the Roos' brand of football was too frantic and overly attacking.

"There are times when we do need to be a bit more considered with our approach going forward," Swallow said. 

"But we're really comfortable with the way we … take the game on and that allows us to set up behind the footy really well."

Swallow said the Roos were determined to make Sunday's loss a turning point for the club. 

"It gets to a point where you have to draw a line in the sand and say, 'OK we're not going to cop these losses,'" he said.

"We've got to go around and turn it around."

Nick Bowen covers North Melbourne news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nick