WHILE we wait for play to resume, and with the little bit of knowledge we've gleaned from round one, we're taking this opportunity to put the microscope on every club.
THE PRESSURE GAUGE Which coach is under the most heat?
This is North Melbourne's Shutdown Report Card. >> LISTEN IN THE PLAYER BELOW
The biggest lesson from round one was…
A lot will have to go right for the Roos to make finals. They rallied from 31 points down in the third quarter – showing trademark resilience – to register an important victory over a Saints side that transformed in the off-season. North will have to improve on that effort. Notable was Ben Cunnington's late, match-winning switch into attack, where he kicked two goals, including the go-ahead score.
What's their weapon in 2020?
Physicality. The Roos became the Bruisers under new coach Rhyce Shaw in the second half of last year, behind the likes of Ben Cunnington, Jed Anderson, Jack Ziebell, Cam Zurhaar and Jy Simpkin. Second-year forward-midfielder Tarryn Thomas boasts plenty of aggression, too, so expect more of the same from North Melbourne once the season resumes.
What could be their downfall?
Thinking they were closer to contention than they are. This might be a tad harsh, because there is some promising youth coming through. However, re-upping Todd Goldstein (31) and Shaun Higgins (32) means the older core – including Robbie Tarrant (30), Jack Ziebell (29) and Ben Cunnington (28) – will likely be at the forefront of anything North does in the foreseeable future. Can the kids develop quickly enough to support them, along with Jasper Pittard (29), Majak Daw (29), Aaron Hall (29), Ben Brown (27) and Jared Polec (27)?
Who missed out on round one and what does it mean for them?
The Roos erred on the side of caution with Majak Daw's illness and he was a late withdrawal – but he's a best-22 player. However, it was Tom Murphy who replaced Daw rather than Sam Durdin, who wasn't even an emergency after playing nine of the last 10 games in 2019. The other emergencies were Taylor Garner, Aiden Bonar and fast-improving big man Tristan Xerri. Both Mason Wood and Dom Tyson have work to do to return to calculations.
Which players could benefit from the break between games?
Jack Ziebell (knee) looked set for a significant stint out after hurting himself in round one, while Paul Ahern (hamstring) and Josh Walker (concussion) also went down. All should be fine once play continues. Luke Davies-Uniacke (groin), Ed Vickers-Willis (knee) and Kayne Turner (foot) could also be in the selection frame by the time round two rolls around.
Who looked set for a breakout season?
It probably happened last year for Jy Simpkin but you could argue it was more of a sneak peek than a full breakout. Simpkin tired towards the end of the 2019 season but was impressive in the Roos' season opener against St Kilda and seems ready to be a consistently strong performer. Curtis Taylor and Tarryn Thomas are others to watch.
Out-of-contract duo Ben Brown and Tristan Xerri were both engaged in negotiations for new deals before the AFL put a freeze on contracts in late March. More intriguing is what happens with players such as Sam Durdin, Mason Wood, Taylor Garner, Ben Jacobs – who continues to be sidelined with concussion symptoms – and Ed Vickers-Willis, who've all been in and out of the senior side for various reasons.