NORTH Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw doesn't regret his lofty pre-season expectations for the Roos and says there have been "gains" despite a difficult, injury-marred campaign.
Shaw was bullish after North won seven of his 12 games in charge last year and told AFL.com.au in February it would be a "failure" if the club didn't qualify for finals for the first time since 2016.
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That bold ambition looked on track when the Kangaroos won in round one, then again when the season resumed months later from the COVID-19-enforced break in an upset over Greater Western Sydney.
However, Shaw's men have lost 13 of their 14 matches since and are in danger of claiming their first wooden spoon in 48 years, as they enter their final game against West Coast on Thursday.
"It's been a really tough journey and everyone's been through it in the AFL this year, but I've certainly learned a lot about myself and what I need to do and how I need to approach certain situations," Shaw said.
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"That's been great for me to be exposed to that stuff, so I can learn and move forward, but also, and just to put an end to that, is that it has been a season (of) disappointment.
"It's not one I envisaged at the start of the year, but we've made gains. I know that sounds strange, but we've made gains in areas.
"We've exposed players to the AFL level and seen if they've been up to it or not and we've got a really clear picture of where we're going and that's really exciting for me."
Bailey Scott's commitment this week for the next two years still leaves North Melbourne with 19 players out of contract, including Jed Anderson, Majak Daw, Ben Jacobs, Jasper Pittard and Mason Wood.
Shaw chose not to comment on Jacobs' future, after the onballer missed the entire season with concussion symptoms, or Giant Aidan Corr, who will exercise his free agency rights and leave GWS.
AFL.com.au reported in recent weeks that North is keen on the defender.
Some Kangaroos are set to depart the hub soon after the Eagles clash, while others, including Shaw, will remain for a bit longer.
The second-year coach said he had implored his players to make the most of their last opportunity to play together in 2020.
"We've spoken a little bit this week about going out there and showing our best and trying to be our best, and that's what this week's all about," Shaw said.
"We know that West Coast is a really good team and (has been) for a long time and we need to match them this week and specifically around the ball, so we've got a real target around that."