NORTH Melbourne could be boosted by the return of veteran forward Jarrad Waite as soon as next weekend as their quest for a place in the top eight gained momentum with a hard-earned 40-point win over West Coast in Hobart on Sunday.
But even with every match looming as a potential elimination final, Kangaroos coach Brad Scott maintained that his side's focus had not shifted from "system and process".
"I've said repeatedly that we're not living in a vacuum," he said. "We're aware of the importance of ladder positions, but the true test for professionals in any sport is to be able to focus on what's in front of you and being able to follow a system and process to achieve the outcome.
"We'll let everyone else focus on prognostications and those kinds of things and we'll just focus on what we need to do.
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"The reality is if we don't play really good footy against good teams none of it matters anyway. You get found out when it really matters."
Having come off a disappointing loss to Collingwood last weekend, the Kangaroos outmuscled and outplayed the Eagles all over Blundstone Arena and Scott was thrilled by the response from his playing group in bouncing back so emphatically.
"Our contest work was much better, our defence was much better," he said.
"Pretty much all aspects that were poor last week were pretty good this week, and as a coach that's all you can ask for."
North's victory saw them remain unbeaten in three matches in Hobart this season and improved their overall record at Blundstone Arena to 14-4, prompting Scott to reflect on his side's ability to capitalise on its home-ground advantage and to adjust the game-plan to suit.
"Clearly the results speak for themselves in terms of the home-ground advantage," he said.
"We have a system down here that is variable, and we can change it at the drop of a hat, depending on conditions, depending on how the game is going, and we were able to change some things during the course of the game."
Coleman Medal hopeful Ben Brown could only manage one goal for the day, but the imminent return of Waite as well as Mason Wood's reintroduction against the Eagles could begin to free up the big Tasmanian in the coming weeks.
Scott indicated Waite had been a chance to play against the Eagles but a decision had been made to err on the side of caution.
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"He trained really well this week. Full training, unrestricted," Scott said.
"We have to make a call as to when he's right to play. He's been symptom-free for a fair while now and should be, his return will be imminent. It could have been this week, but we chose not to, it's been a very deliberate, long-term focus.
"Rushing him back early is just a huge mistake."