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Roos cull six, including former Hawk speedster

Billy Hartung has been delisted - AFL,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Billy Hartung,Tom Jeffries,Oscar Junker,Gordon Narrier,Daniel Nielson,Josh Williams
Billy Hartung has been delisted

BILLY Hartung's AFL career hangs in the balance for the second straight year, with North Melbourne cutting ties with the 76-game speedster. 

The former Hawk headlined the Kangaroos' first round of delistings, which included 2016 second-round pick Josh Williams – who club legend Brent Harvey once lavished praise on – Dan Nielson and rookie-listed trio Tom Jeffries, Oscar Junker and Gordon Narrier.

The list changes come a week after star forward Jarrad Waite announced his retirement after 17 seasons with North and Carlton.

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Hartung, 23, was a slightly surprising delisting at Hawthorn last year after playing 56 matches in the previous three seasons, but the Roos threw him an AFL lifeline in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. 

He impressed over the summer at Arden St and produced a strong first month, averaging 22 disposals, 7.5 contested possessions – a huge rise on his Hawks numbers – and 3.3 inside 50s.

 

But Hartung's form slipped and he was dropped for North Melbourne's round 14 clash with the Western Bulldogs, only to score a late reprieve because of Ben Jacobs' delayed concussion symptoms.

He fatefully injured his left hamstring in that match and was unsighted at AFL level for the rest of the season, but made one VFL appearance earlier in August. 

Williams, the No.36 draft pick two years ago, played two senior games in 2017, but none this year and a back injury sidelined him at the end of this season.

Nielson played all seven of his matches last year, but was behind Robbie Tarrant, Scott Thompson, Majak Daw, Sam Durdin and Ben McKay in the key defender pecking order.

The 21-year-old produced good form in the VFL, particularly in the second half of the season, and may pique another club's interest.

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Junker, who was retained as a rookie for a second season after suffering a broken leg last year, and Narrier didn't play an AFL match. 

It was the same story for category B rookie Jeffries, who found himself in the odd position of playing some local football games at Avondale Heights in 2018.

The Roos took a flyer on the rugby and rowing convert two years ago.

North Melbourne's football boss Cameron Joyce said delisting players was always a difficult process. 

"It's the worst part of our job, by far," Joyce said.

"Our focus, though, is on supporting the boys as best we can as they transition to another club, or in some cases, look to go in another direction completely in terms of their careers.

"For all these boys, they've given their all to the North Melbourne Football Club and we must duly acknowledge their contributions and efforts."

Ben Jacobs, Jed Anderson, Sam Wright, Scott Thompson, Alex Morgan, Declan Mountford, Ryan Clarke and Mitch Hibberd are still to re-sign at North.