EMERGING ruckman Braydon Preuss never considered leaving North Melbourne during the NAB AFL Trade Period and has now reaffirmed his future lies at Arden St, re-signing with the Roos until the end of 2020.
Preuss had already been contracted for 2018, but attracted rival interest in the lead-up to the Trade Period after a breakthrough 2017 season when he averaged 23 hit-outs in eight senior games.
The 206cm Queenslander had made a strong impression with his robust attack on the ball and opponents this season and there was speculation he might consider a move given 2015 All Australian Todd Goldstein remained contracted with North for the next two seasons.
But after penning a two-year contract extension with the Roos on Friday, Preuss said Arden St was where he wanted to be.
"I'm bloody excited, it's really good to get [the contract] done," Preuss said.
"We've got heaps of young guys coming through and everyone here obviously wants to stay because we're all re-signing, so the players obviously know there is something big happening."
Asked about the recent speculation on his future, Preuss dismissed it as "just Trade Period talk."
"People start rumours from nothing, but I was contracted for next year and it never crossed my mind (to leave) and the club knew that," he said.
Preuss said training alongside Goldstein and fellow ruckman Majak Daw had been invaluable for his development, and believed the Roos' ruck depth would continue to benefit all three players.
"We can't afford to have any slack days with our training or playing because if one of us drops off form-wise, there's another bloke ready to play and take the spot," Preuss said.
"We all have different strengths, we're all completely different players, so it's good for us and the club."
Preuss knows wresting North's No.1 ruck role from Goldstein won't be easy but he is up for the challenge.
"He's a pretty good rabbit, especially in pre-season with the running. Every running session I think I had him beaten, then in the last 100m he'd just smash me – he's one of the best in the business," he said.
North football manager Cameron Joyce said the club had high hopes for Preuss.
"One of our strengths will be the depth of our ruck division and the further development of players like Braydon," Joyce said.
"He moves extremely well for someone of his size, he's got a great pair of hands and can take a really strong mark – and, to think, he only started playing football at 17."
Preuss, 22, took some big strides in his third season at Arden St this year.
After an impressive JLT Community Series, he made his debut in round one against West Coast.
The 206cm Queenslander played the opening four rounds, with his most impressive performance coming in round three against Greater Western Sydney, when he finished with 16 possessions, 26 hit-outs and two goals.
But after being rested in round five, Preuss struggled for senior opportunities as the Roos opted to play Goldstein as their sole ruckman.
The former rugby league player earned a senior recall in round 19 – he would likely have earned one earlier but for a niggling ankle injury – and played the next four games before a shoulder injury prematurely ended his season.
Preuss will kick off his 2018 pre-season this weekend when North's younger players travel to Utah for a two-week training camp.