NORTH Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw is taking an extended period of leave from football.

After weeks of uncertainty, the Roos on Friday publicly revealed Shaw needed to step away indefinitely. 

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Chairman Ben Buckley said North had delayed announcing anything relating to Shaw as it was respecting his and his family's wishes.

"Rhyce has asked for some time and space away from football and we have provided him support during this period," Buckley said.

"We thank the media for their ongoing co-operation and trust they understand we can't make any further comment at this time.

"In the meantime we will forge ahead. From a board perspective, our decision-making centres around one ambition: how we can build a team and a football program that will win our fifth flag." 

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Shaw's health has been North's primary concern since its season ended, but once it realised the extent of time Shaw required away, it has for some weeks been considering contingencies around his position as head coach. revealed late last month that Swans premiership coach Paul Roos had been sounded out to join the club, most likely in a wide-ranging, part-time leadership mentoring role.

Long-time senior assistant coach at the Swans John Blakey has also been signed by North for 2021 and beyond. 

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North Melbourne will be respectful and sensitive to every aspect of Shaw's situation, and has relayed to his family and management that he is welcome back at the club when he has recovered.

But the club has privately accepted that if he was to return, it would not be as senior coach. understands ex-Brisbane coach and current Port Adelaide senior assistant coach Michael Voss will be a person of interest for the head North position. 

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North Melbourne's 2020 season was horrendous. It won its round one game, against finalist St Kilda, and then its round two match – after the 12-week COVID-19 enforced shutdown - against last year's Grand Finalist GWS. At that stage it believed it was finals bound.

Just one more victory came in 2020 – to the only team which finished below the Roos on the ladder, Adelaide.

The final weeks of the season were a mess, on and off the field. As the scoreline crumbled, so too did morale and relationships between players and coaches. Six assistant coaches were sacked early this month, and 11 players had previously been delisted.

Full-forward Ben Brown and the contracted Shaun Higgins will also be exiting.