In a nutshell

A 1-5 start triggered change, with coach Brad Scott announcing a month later he had parted ways with the club. Rhyce Shaw started as caretaker but won the job as the aggressive Roos went 7-5 on his watch.

What we said in the pre-season

Most journos predicted North Melbourne to finish between 10th and 12th, with only two tipping a top-eight finish, so that was pretty accurate. Ben Brown was a fairly popular selection as the Coleman medallist and he fell only three goals short of Giant Jeremy Cameron. The round one best-22 prediction was basically on the money, except for Jy Simpkin and Paul Ahern swapping places.

What worked 

Replacing Brad Scott with Rhyce Shaw
This isn't saying one coach is superior to the other, but rather the coaching change served as a circuit-breaker that reinvigorated the Roos.

Bringing Nick Larkey in
North fans' prayers were answered when promising key forward Larkey was called up in round six, and he went on to kick four bags of at least three goals, including twice booting five.

Jy Simpkin's demotion
Simpkin was, perhaps, fortunate to start the season in the senior side, but was dropped after round five. He responded with the best football of his young career.

What failed

The round one capitulation
The tone was set for the Kangaroos when they kicked only nine goals in an 82-point hiding to Fremantle in the opening round. The pressure never relented for Brad Scott.

Communicating Scott's exit
The players, from captain Jack Ziebell down, admitted they found out about Brad Scott's coaching exit through the media. Probably not ideal.

Kicking a score in round 21
The Roos kicked one goal for the whole night against Geelong, and the final scoreline of 1.8 (14) was their lowest in VFL/AFL history.

Overall rating

C+. The season was somewhat salvaged in the second half, but you can't ignore the abysmal 1-5 start that derailed the campaign.

The coach

Brad Scott started in the chair and was done by round 10. He led the Roos to consecutive preliminary finals in 2014-15 and finished with more wins (106) than losses (105), but he polarised opinion towards the end. North performed well enough under Rhyce Shaw for him to win the long-term job before season's end and he will start 2020 with a 7-5 record. The pressure starts then.


Ben Cunnington: The wrecking-ball midfielder made the Virgin Australia AFL All Australian squad of 40 and is arguably the AFL's best and most creative handballer. Averaged a career-best 26.6 disposals and rated elite in all clearance categories, effective disposals, contested possessions and groundball-gets.

Surprise packet

Cam Zurhaar: We knew something was there last year, but Zurhaar stamped himself as a big part of North's future with a breakout 2019 season, including two five-goal hauls and one game where he laid 11 tackles.

Get excited

Tarryn Thomas: Missed out on round one selection, but Thomas played 20 games in his debut season. He may not have had one standout performance, but the consistent glimpses were tantalising and left almost everyone believing the Roos had drafted a beauty.


Paul Ahern: Ahern's season never really got going after he was overlooked in the opening three rounds. He didn't grab his opportunities when they eventually arose – and spent most of the year in the VFL – but he flashed his potential playing across half-back late in the season.

Best win

Round 15: North Melbourne 11.15 (81) d Collingwood 5.7 (37)

Football boss Cameron Joyce's departure and news of Taylor Garner's barfight all came out between matches, and the Roos were fresh from the bye and a disappointing showing before it against the Giants. But they physically worked the Magpies over and controlled the match from the outset on the way to a strong victory.

Best individual performance 

Todd Goldstein. Round 22 v Port Adelaide

This was pretty much the ultimate ruckman's game: 34 disposals (19 contested), 17 score involvements, nine clearances, six inside 50s and nine hitouts to advantage. Ruckmen statistics can sometimes be overblown, but not in this instance.

Low point

The near-on 10-goal thrashing at Essendon's hands on Good Friday, the occasion North is trying to make its own. It was the listless Kangas' fourth loss in five games to start the year. The teams met again in round 17 and it took a last-minute Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti goal to deny North.

The big questions 

Was Rhyce Shaw's impressive 12-game cameo as coach a trend or a mirage?

Should the Roos let Shaun Higgins go, or is he worth more as a leader?

Can Luke Davies-Uniacke become a major part of the midfield in 2020?

Season in a movie title

The New Guy. The 2002 movie was a comedy, but caretaker-turned-coach Rhyce Shaw will hope the real-life version is a drama with a happy ending.

Who's done?

Retirements: Scott Thompson, Sam Wright

Delistings: Nathan Hrovat, Declan Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Red Og Murphy

Unsigned free agents: Todd Goldstein

How should they approach trade and draft period? 

With educated aggression. The Roos still have some work to do with their list, and they need to figure out where the holes are and what they can offer to try to fix them. Mason Wood and Shaun Higgins are among the names being mentioned as potential trade chips.

Early call for 2020

Aiming for finals is realistic, because there are plenty of good pieces there. However, there are variables, such as the key defensive posts and prized youngster Luke Davies-Uniacke's development.