A general view during the round five match between Brisbane and North Melbourne at Adelaide Hills on April 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has challenged his charges to show they can get to grips with Brisbane's contested-ball beasts as they chase an unlikely upset. 

The Kangaroos were dealt a lesson in contested ball by Carlton's midfield, led by Patrick Cripps, on Good Friday.

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North sits 0-3 ahead of taking on the winless Lions at Norwood Oval on Friday for Gather Round.

"Obviously, it's a little bit of a tighter ground so it's probably likely to be more contested footy which is going to make it tough because it's a real strength in the Brisbane side," Clarkson said on Wednesday. 

"So we're going to have to be really, really good in that space. We know that, we understand that. 

"We look forward to the challenge of that. But just excited we get a chance to go across to Adelaide, take on a really good side and once again, get some more evidence of where we're at as a side."


Clarkson expected young guns George Wardlaw, Harry Sheezel, Zane Duursma and Colby McKercher to take plenty out of their clash with the 2023 Grand Finalists.

"Wardlaw is probably likely to play at different stages on Lachie Neale this week," Clarkson said. 

"Lachie has been playing for 10 years, George has played about 10 games.

George Wardlaw kicks a goal during the R3 match between North Melbourne and Carlton at Marvel Stadium on March 29, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"So that's just great exposure for him whether he wins or loses that contest, or just wins or loses individual contests within the game. 

"Just that exposure that he gets is just gold for him because we're hoping that George can somehow be the next Lachie Neale in the competition."

Clarkson indicated some rushed attempts on goal from Cameron Zurhaar against Carlton reflected North's attempts to play fast football, rather than selfishness from the forward.

"It's just game awareness," he said.

"A lot of these decisions are about how fast you go with the footy. You want to go with real speed ... you're more likely to be making errors. 

"There's no one in the game that can do anything at top pace really, really well consistently. 


"So it's just acknowledging the times when you just need to slow down. 

"The times that Cam Zurhaar and Paul Curtis have made mistakes is when they've continued to try to go at breakneck speed and it's just trying to learn to have the awareness of the game, when it is time to go quick and when it's time to slow down."

After tall Callum Coleman-Jones suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, the Kangaroos will contemplate a recall for Charlie Comben, or handing a debut to mature draftee Tyler Sellers.