Alastair Clarkson during the round two match between North Melbourne and Fremantle on March 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

NORTH Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson has laughed off comments from Sydney premiership hero Paul Roos, who believes Carlton's reserves side in the 1980s would beat the current-day Kangaroos.

Roos, who worked as a consultant for North during 2021 and 2022, took a major swipe at the club ahead of the bottom-placed Kangaroos' clash with Gold Coast.

During a broader conversation, the Swans' 2005 premiership coach used North as an example about how there is less depth in the AFL than 40 years ago.

"Carlton's seconds team in the early '80s would beat North Melbourne right now, there's no question about that," Roos said on Thursday.

Clarkson laughed and asked "did he?" when informed of Roos' comments.

Luke Davies-Uniacke and Alastair Clarkson celebrate after the round 13 match between West Coast and North Melbourne at Optus Stadium, June 8, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"Everyone's got their opinion," Clarkson said.

"You're an easy target when you're sitting on the ladder where we are, so you just roll with the punches.

"All of us have been part of (struggling) sides ... whether we've coached them or whether we've played in them.

"I thought 'Roosy' might have been one of those too, but obviously not."

Having remained in the bottom-two since the start of 2020, North has been as competitive in the last month as it has been for years.


The Kangaroos recorded their first win of the season against West Coast in round 13, before narrow defeats to finals contenders Collingwood, Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs.

"The last four weeks have shown our supporters and the wider football public that there's some excitement here," Clarkson said.

"You don't have to go back too long ago where Carlton were and where the Melbourne footy club were ... ironically enough 'Roosy' was at the Melbourne footy club when that was happening."

While Clarkson was fairly diplomatic in response, dual North premiership hero Corey McKernan fired up about Roos' remarks, calling them "really stupid".

Clarkson believed it was too hard to compare eras, even though he played in the 1980s and has coached in the AFL since 2005.


Meanwhile, the AFL is reportedly looking into giving North Melbourne first access at all Indigenous teenagers in the Northern Territory as an equalisation measure.

The Kangaroos will likely cease playing four home games a year in Hobart ahead of the Tasmanian Devils' entry into the AFL in 2028.

"All I do know is that the club is going to explore a secondary market for where they can play some of their home games in the future to help grow our brand, help grow our footy club," Clarkson said.

"It will also provide some sort of financial stability for the footy club, which is what Tassie has been able to offer."

Clarkson confirmed dashing defender Zac Fisher (foot) would not play against the Suns after being subbed out against the Bulldogs last week.

Zac Fisher during the round 16 match between North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, June 29, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Often a vocal critic of umpires, Clarkson says he feels sorry for officials and believes the AFL needs to make their job easier.

AFL boss Andrew Dillon this week claimed the standard of umpiring is as good as ever, responding after the league clarifying to Essendon coach Brad Scott a "series of unfortunate events" in the Bombers' defeat to Geelong.

After North's loss against the Western Bulldogs last Saturday, Clarkson urged the umpires to be mindful of players staging for free kicks.

Clarkson last month admitted to swearing out of frustration in response to an umpiring decision while coaching from the bench, later apologising.

But ahead of the Kangaroos' clash with Gold Coast, the four-time premiership coach felt it was time for everyone to take a different approach.

Two umpires spent time at Arden St on Thursday with North players and coaches.

"It feels like the poor umps get bashed every week by everyone - including at different stages - the coaches," Clarkson said.

"Not that we deliberately try to bash them, but things happen in the game, the emotion of the game. They've (umpires) got the toughest job."

Constant changes to rules and interpretations - such as the stand rule - have made the umpires' job more difficult, according to Clarkson.

Alastair Clarkson with umpire Cameron Dore during the round two match between Hawthorn and Richmond at the MCG, March 28, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

"As if the game wasn't hard enough beforehand and now we've just another added another complexity to what is a really, really difficult game to umpire," he said. 

"I just really feel sorry for them.

"Anything we can do to make our game simpler to adjudicate, whether it is to do with the holding-the-ball rule, or the stand rule, I think there's ways that we could take away a lot of grey out of our game

"It needs the views of coaches, media, supporters, the administrators of the game to get together into a forum and say 'how can we make this easier for the umps rather than smack them over the head every time they make a decision.

"Even the non-decisions they've got to make is still a decision, to not blow the whistle and that makes it really tough."