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'He's picked himself': LDU locked in for debut

Luke Davies-Uniacke will make his debut against Gold Coast - AFL,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Luke Davies-Uniacke,Brad Scott
Luke Davies-Uniacke will make his debut against Gold Coast
Some of the best midfielders of all time have taken a couple of years to find their feet at AFL level. Based purely on performance, he's done enough to be picked.
Brad Scott

PRIZED North Melbourne draftee Luke Davies-Uniacke has picked himself for Saturday night's clash against Gold Coast, according to coach Brad Scott, with the young midfielder set to make his debut in the opening round. 

Scott confirmed Davies-Uniacke would face the Suns, with the No.4 pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft presented with his North Melbourne guernsey by former player and No.9 Jess Sinclair on Wednesday morning.

The 18-year-old played in both JLT Community Series matches and Scott said he had earned his opportunity through an impressive pre-season on the track.

"He's picked himself," the coach said on Wednesday.  

"We always wanted to give him opportunity through the pre-season games, but he's got to hold up his end of the bargain with his fitness levels and understanding of the way we want to play. 

"We understand he's an 18-year-old playing his first game of footy, so he's picked himself in terms of his performance, but we've got to be very careful not to put too high an expectation on Luke too early. 

"Some of the best midfielders of all time have taken a couple of years to find their feet at AFL level. Based purely on performance, he's done enough to be picked."

Davies-Uniacke is likely to play a midfield role on Saturday night, but Scott said the club had the option of using him as a permanent forward or even off half-back, given his clean ball-use and excellent decision-making.   

The Dandenong Stingrays product, whose parents will fly north to see him make his debut at Cazaly's Stadium, said he had a "small inkling" he would be making his debut when he arrived at the club on Wednesday. 

"A couple of players told me that I could be playing, but I didn't really want to believe it," he said.   

"You're always hoping to play round one and break into the side, but the first thing is playing your role out on the training track and just preparing."

Scott confirmed former Hawthorn midfielder Billy Hartung would debut for the club on Saturday night, while important defender Robbie Tarrant has not been troubled at all after a knock to the kidney in the JLT Community Series loss to Richmond. 

The coach said the Kangaroos had learned a lot from their heavy loss to the Tigers and enjoyed a positive two weeks of preparation for round one.

"We're looking forward to getting out and playing a game that actually matters," Scott said. 

In the ruck, Scott said the Kangaroos were more than likely to play only one of Todd Goldstein or Brayden Preuss on Saturday night and their preference for round one had been decided.

Goldstein, who played both pre-season games, appeared to do more training on Wednesday with the likely AFL line-up when squads were split at Arden Street. 

"The way AFL footy is right at the moment makes it incredibly difficult to play two genuine ruckmen," Scott said. 

"I don't think there's anyone else in the competition who is doing that. 

"When you add in the fact that we've got a 200cm key forward in Ben Brown, it makes it even harder.

"It's more than likely we'll go with one ruck and we'll continue that conversation through the year."