Vikki Wall kicks the ball during the S7 AFLW R10 match between North Melbourne and Richmond at Arden Street Oval on October 30, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH Melbourne expects its star AFLW recruit Vikki Wall to return to Australia before round one, having missed out on selection in Ireland's rugby sevens squad for the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics.

Wall's impending return comes as the club strengthens its coaching team around Darren Crocker, with ex-St Kilda men's player Dan McKenzie and Ryan Pendlebury – the brother of Collingwood's Scott – set to join the Kangaroos as assistants.

Wall instantly became one of North Melbourne's most important players when she joined the side midway through 2022, but she did not return to Australia for the club's 2023 campaign following her Gaelic commitments with Meath.

Instead, she informed Kangaroos officials last July of her intentions to remain in Ireland and target an Olympics berth where she would attempt to represent her country in rugby sevens at Paris next month.

However, Ireland finalised its 12-person Olympics squad earlier this week with Wall unfortunately not named among the group or within its two-person travelling reserves party.

North Melbourne, which has remained in communication with Wall throughout the process, now expects the forward to return to Australia sometime in August ahead of the side's first game on September 1.


The Kangaroos exceeded expectations in Wall's absence last season, progressing through to their first AFLW Grand Final before succumbing to the Lions. They now face a Grand Final re-match against the reigning premier in round one.

Their ambitions for the 2024 campaign have been bolstered by the addition of McKenzie, who played 73 games across nine seasons with St Kilda before being delisted at the end of last season, as an assistant coach.

McKenzie is one of a number of ex-AFL players to join the AFLW coaching ranks throughout the off-season, with Collingwood hiring Dom Tyson to work beneath its new coach Sam Wright and the Bulldogs appointing Toby McLean as an assistant.

Dan McKenzie celebrates a goal during the R7 match between St Kilda and Port Adelaide on April 30, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

McKenzie joins alongside Pendlebury, the brother of Collingwood's 394-game champion Scott and both a player and the senior coach of Euroa in the Goulburn Valley Football League.

North Melbourne made a series of off-field alterations to its AFLW program across the break, with former Greater Western Sydney player Erin Lorenzini replacing Nathan Hrovat as the club's new head of women's football.