George Wardlaw poses during North Melbourne's 2024 team photo day at Arden Street. Picture: AFL Photos

WHEN North Melbourne released its list of players' goal-celebration songs, amid the usual pop, soft rock and country, George Wardlaw's choice instantly caught the eye.

Sergei Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights, from the ballet of Romeo and Juliet.

It's hard to imagine classical music ever being played over the sound system at Marvel Stadium before, but that's exactly what happened after Wardlaw's goal against Fremantle over the weekend.

"How did it come about? That's a good question, I'm not too sure. I can't say I'm a massive fan of classical music, I don't listen to it daily, but I do occasionally like listening to it," Wardlaw told

"I've always found that song pretty cool, so to hear it over the loudspeakers at Marvel was awesome. Hopefully we can hear it a bit more in the future as well.

"I listen to a lot of different genres, and I guess that's one that I've stumbled across. It's definitely not in the daily mix, but I do like the sound of it."

Wardlaw – whose own musical ability extends to the acoustic guitar, with Jack Johnson's Banana Pancake a favourite – received the round two nomination for the AFL Rising Star award, the powerful midfielder's second after last year's recognition.

An injury-hit first season – hamstring issues stemming from his final year of junior footy, as well as a minor knee complaint – saw the No.4 draft pick restricted to just eight games, and thus still eligible for this year's nomination. 

He recorded 23 disposals, six marks and five clearances against Fremantle, as well as kicking that goal that triggered the sounds of a symphonic orchestra.


It was his second nomination, becoming just the 18th player to achieve the feat, having also been nominated in round 13 last year.

"I'm not sure how many players have [two nominations], I jokingly said 'Sheez' (Harry Sheezel, teammate and last year's overall winner) hasn't, so that's one thing I've got over him," Wardlaw said.

"Last year was frustrating. I worked closely with the medical team, and they were great for me and helped me along. Also the off-season I had put me in great stead for this season. 

"I've learned a lot, a lot of it is about resilience. Now that I've experienced those things, I'm always on the front foot trying to get my body right and play every week.

"I had an individualised program for the gym that worked on hamstring muscles, so that was a large part of my gym program. A lot of it was just continuity with running and football stuff, getting in a good, uninterrupted period was the most important thing, and that's what I got."

Harry Sheezel and George Wardlaw at North Melbourne training on July 6, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

North Melbourne kicked off its match against Fremantle in scintillating fashion, jumping out to a 32-point lead before the Dockers took complete control in the second half to win by 26.

"The first half was how we were aiming to play. I think everyone who played in that game spoke about how electric it felt. We really felt the vibe. It felt great, and now we have to do it for a full game," Wardlaw said.

"We'll be better for that game. We've got such a young list, games like that can really encourage us and make us believe that what we're doing is right. We've just got to produce it for four quarters."

Players nominated twice for the AFL Rising Star

* Duncan Kellaway, Richmond (R15, 1993 & R24, 1994)
* Craig Callaghan, Fremantle (R16, 1995 & R22, 1996)
* Michael Braun, West Coast (R14, 1997 & R1, 1998)
* Luke Power, Brisbane (R2, 1998 & R17, 1999)
* Nathan Jones, Melbourne (R20, 2006 & R17, 2007)
* Mark LeCras, West Coast (R22, 2006 & R20, 2007)
* Michael Hurley, Essendon (R20, 2009 & R18, 2010)
* Jordan Gysberts, Melbourne (R11, 2011 & R11, 2012)
* Sam Blease, Melbourne (R23, 2011 & R20, 2012)
* Orazio Fantasia, Essendon (R23, 2015 & R17, 2016)
* Alex Witherden, Brisbane (R17, 2017 & R9 2018)
* Lachie Sholl, Adelaide (R18, 2020 & R4, 2021)
* Mitch Georgiades, Port Adelaide (R9, 2020 & R5, 2021)
* Luke Jackson, Melbourne (R10, 2020 & R7, 2021)
* Tom Green, Greater Western Sydney (R4, 2020 & R9, 2021)
* Justin McInerney, Sydney (R15, 2020 & R16, 2021)
* Jake Bowey, Melbourne (R22, 2021 & R2, 2022)
* George Wardlaw, North Melbourne (R13, 2023 & R2, 2024)