THE MAJAK Daw experiment – entering a ninth season – could have another twist to come.
North Melbourne's pre-Christmas training ended in an open session at Arden St on Friday, with Daw playing in an unfamiliar defensive role on Ben Brown in match simulation.
It is only late December and there are still 64 days until the Kangaroos' JLT Community Series opener against Melbourne, but it may mark the newest chapter in Operation: Daw.
The hulking 26-year-old scattered only 32 games together in his previous eight years on the Kangaroos' list – and never more than six in a row – playing predominantly as a forward or ruckman.
Daw won a combined 38 disposals in six AFL appearances between rounds 14 and 19 this year, a period that included a Brad Scott tongue-lashing for failing to adequately use his obvious physical strengths.
That extended opportunity came as a ruckman, but a foot injury sidelined him for the umpteenth time in his stop-start career.
Daw was often isolated on the last line of defence against Brown, although the giant Tasmanian was not targeted as many times as he would be typically in an AFL contest.
Third-year swingman Ben McKay, who has been eased into the pre-season, started on Brown in another indication of which end he may start at in 2018.
Making Daw's positioning more interesting was that Todd Goldstein sat out the session, leaving Braydon Preuss and teenage draftee Tristan Xerri to battle in the ruck.
Daw did join Preuss, who sported a new, closely cropped haircut, and North's part-time ruck coach Will Minson, in combative one-on-one ruck drills afterwards.
Mason Wood showed some impressive glimpses of his talent, while ex-Bomber Alex Morgan won plenty of the ball and took kick-outs for his side.
In good news, McKay, Trent Dumont (calf), Nathan Hrovat (ankle), Mitch Hibberd, Ryan Clarke and Preuss (all shoulder), Jamie Macmillan (finger) and Oscar Junker (broken tibia) took part in simulation after delayed starts to pre-season.
Junker, a 193cm utility, had a nice moment with an excellent vertical leap to mark overhead just inside 50 and kick a goal.
But North continues to take a softly-softly approach with injury prone forward Taylor Garner, who again sat out the session.
Joining Garner on the sidelines were Ed Vickers-Willis (ankle) – who was restricted to rolling his legs over on a stationary bike – Kyron Hayden (shoulder), Jack Ziebell (toe), Sam Wright (ankle), Ben Jacobs (foot), Marley Williams (back) and Declan Watson (knee).
Cam Zurhaar and category B rookie Tom Jeffries also watched on.
Jy Simpkin (groin) competed in match simulation, but was not a full contributor in training.