Both teams will take new-look line-ups into round one. The Eagles' midfield will be bolstered by the addition of four-time Hawthorn premiership player Sam Mitchell, while former Kangaroo Drew Petrie and ex-Cat Nathan Vardy are set to handle West Coast's ruck duties in the injury-enforced absence of Nic Naitanui and Scott Lycett. North has gone from being one of the oldest teams in the competition in 2016 to one of the youngest this season, with draftee Jy Simpkin and recycled pair Nathan Hrovat (Western Bulldogs) and Marley Williams (Collingwood) set to be among its new faces. The Kangaroos are widely tipped to slide in 2017 after making four of the past five finals series, while the Eagles' premiership window still appears wide open. North, however, is bullish that with a senior core of players such as Todd Goldstein, Jack Ziebell, Robbie Tarrant, Ben Cunnington, Shaun Higgins and Scott Thompson it can remain extremely competitive this season. West Coast's greater experience and depth of talent give it the edge, but the Kangaroos will be no pushovers on their home deck.
WHERE AND WHEN: Etihad Stadium, Sunday, March 26, 1.10pm AEDT
TV AND RADIO: Click here for broadcast guide
PAST FIVE TIMES
R16, 2016, West Coast Eagles 16.8 (104) d North Melbourne 11.6 (72) at Domain Stadium
2PF, 2015, West Coast Eagles 10.20 (80) d North Melbourne 7.13 (55) at Domain Stadium
R10, 2015, North Melbourne 13.7 (85) d West Coast Eagles 10.15 (75) at Blundstone Arena
R11, 2014, North Melbourne 12.10 (82) d West Coast Eagles 6.8 (44) at Domain Stadium
R8, 2013, West Coast Eagles 12.18 (90) d North Melbourne 13.10 (88) at Domain Stadium
THE SIX POINTS
1. The Eagles comfortably defeated the Kangaroos the last time the sides played in round 16 last season, but some of the key statistics were close. North Melbourne had one more disposal and five more clearances, but West Coast had 24 scoring shots to 17 and laid 17 more tackles.
2. West Coast has had the better of North recently, winning seven of their past nine matches. Four of those games have been decided by 10 points or less.
3. The Eagles were one of the higher scoring teams in 2016, ending the home and away season ranked fifth for average points a game with 97. The Kangaroos were ranked eighth with an average score of 88 points.
4. North had an impressive 2016 at Etihad Stadium, winning eight of 13 games. West Coast played just one game at Etihad in 2016 for an eight-point loss against the Western Bulldogs.
5. Neither team was among the competition's leading sides for inside 50s in 2016. West Coast was ranked 10th with an average 52.3 entries a game, one spot ahead of North Melbourne with an average 51.7 entries.
6. North ruckman Todd Goldstein is the highest ranked player from either team in the Schick AFL Player Ratings. The ruckman is ranked No.6 overall, one position ahead of sidelined Eagles counterpart Nic Naitanui.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR … Drew Petrie.
The big man established himself as a North Melbourne great over 16 seasons at Arden Street, playing 316 games and kicking 428 goals. On Sunday, he faces the considerable challenge of squaring off against Todd Goldstein in the ruck and key defenders Scott Thompson and Robbie Tarrant when he's resting in defence. But putting his emotions to one side as he faces his former team could be an even bigger challenge.
PREDICTION: West Coast by 13 points