Zane Duursma and Colby McKercher pose for a photo during the AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 20, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

AFTER years down the bottom of the ladder, North Melbourne has snared five young guns in the first round of the AFL Draft to boost its rebuild.

The Kangaroos selected Tasmanian midfielder Colby McKercher at pick two before going again at No.4 by taking Zane Duursma on Monday night.

North put in a bid for Gold Coast Academy product Jed Walter at pick three, knowing full well the Suns would match it immediately.

McKercher starred in the Allies' under-18 championships title this year to put him just one spot behind Harley Reid, who had long been locked in to go at No.1.

The 18-year-old has set his sights on debuting in round one next season, as Harry Sheezel did this year in coach Alastair Clarkson's first game in charge of North.

Sheezel and fellow 2022 North draftee George Wardlaw excitedly met their new teammates at Marvel Stadium, a quartet Kangaroos fans hope will star in the club's fifth VFL/AFL premiership.

"Everyone needs goals to motivate them and I think that's a good one," McKercher said.

"'I'm gonna get to work with that on my mind. 

"I can't wait to get to know him (Clarkson) better and learn off him and improve my game and hopefully be a part of something special.

"It's probably been the best day of my life so far. A super exciting moment."

McKercher was presented with his jumper by AFL games record holder Brent Harvey, who starred in North's last premiership in 1999.


Former North defender Michael Firrito was on hand to give Duursma, the brother of Essendon recruit Xavier, his first blue and white guernsey.

"I'm really excited and stoked to be there," Duursma said.

"The future's really bright at North Melbourne so looking forward to being part of that."

North was pushed down the draft to pick 20 where it selected ruck Taylor Goad, who only recently decided to commit to Australian Football after playing basketball.

After losing Ben McKay to Essendon as a free agent during the Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period, North filled the key defender void with Wil Dawson at No.22.


Riley Hardeman was up at pick 23, with North adding another defender to the mix.

"The plan was just to pick the talent at the top and then address some of those needs," North recruiting manager Will Thursfield said.

"It was decided a while ago (North would take McKercher and Duursma). We just thought that they were the two best talents too hard to pass up on."