NEITHER Rhyce Shaw nor his former Sydney mentor John Longmire took the media's bait to create a master and apprentice atmosphere to their first coaching box clash on Saturday.

In short, they're great mates and Longmire's support for Shaw from their Swans days extended to the difficult COVID-19 shutdown but, like any opposition, they want to beat the other.

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It doesn't go any further than that, they say.

"There's no great rivalry or anything like that between myself and John," Shaw said, answering on Friday morning the third successive variation on the Longmire question.

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However, North Melbourne forward Mason Wood – back in the side as the Roos take a cautious approach to Nick Larkey's foot problem – proved the circuit-breaker.

Wood's long been a tantalising player, mixing the odd standout performance with lean spells and soft-tissue injuries.

One of his best on-field outings came against the Swans in round seven, 2018, when his fourth and final goal that night proved the match-winner.

Wood snatched the ball from the air at pace, shook a pair of Sydney defenders, then zigzagged inside, fended off Dane Rampe and put North in front for good in the dying minutes.

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Shaw hasn't forgotten, given he was the Swans' backline coach that season before ascending to the top role at the Kangaroos last year.

"I was on the defensive end of a four-goal burst from 'Mase', and 'Horse' (Longmire) wasn't too happy with me at that stage," Shaw said with a laugh.

"But, look, hopefully he can reproduce that."

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Wood was the subject of trade discussions last year, then reinvented himself as a defender in the pre-season but is back in attack as he aims to revive his AFL career.

Larkey is expected to miss another three or four weeks, so it could be an extended audition for Wood.

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"We're really keen to get the best out of each individual player on our list and we had a bit of a play-around with Mase over the pre-season down back," Shaw said.

"He certainly learned a lot of things he could take back into the forward line and that's been a really pleasing aspect – and that's why he got a game, to be honest.

"He's been really selfless in his work ethic and played a huge part last week. I know people say, 'Huge part? He's had seven touches' but I don't really look at disposals too much."

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Senior regular Marley Williams was available to return this week from the longest two-game suspension of all-time but North not playing a scratch match last week went against him.

The Roos instead opted to recall Paul Ahern in place of Bailey Scott, who was quiet in the round two victory over Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.

Williams will play alongside North Melbourne's non-selected players against their Western Bulldogs counterparts on Friday.

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"It's a great position for us to be in. Bobby's (Williams) been a huge part of our team for a long period of time and just hasn't had that opportunity to play," Shaw said.

"With the success we had last week, and the way the guys performed, we just thought it was a really good opportunity for him to get a game in today against the Doggies and we'll go from there.

"But Bobby's certainly well in the mix to play in our 22 whenever he becomes available and ready."

Shaw would not be drawn on whether Williams was competing with Luke McDonald and Jamie Macmillan for one of those two defensive spots or if they could play together.