Jared Polec at North Melbourne training in December 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

FOUR months after North Melbourne made the surprise decision to delist Jared Polec and then add him to the rookie list, Kangaroos coach David Noble has confirmed the wingman will face Hawthorn in round one. 

The 29-year-old fell out of favour at Arden Street last season and only managed five senior games, following 13 appearances in 2020 in his second season, after arriving on a lucrative five-year deal from Port Adelaide at the end of 2018.

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North Melbourne looked to trade Polec to a fourth club only two years into his time at the Kangaroos but couldn’t find a suitor, given the size and length of his contract.

But after backing up a strong showing against Melbourne at Casey Fields last Thursday with an even better performance in the AAMI Community Series clash with Sydney at Giants Stadium, the South Australian's career is off life support following a stunning resurgence over the summer.

North Melbourne's Jared Polec in action against Melbourne in a practice match on February 24, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Noble said the 2010 No.5 pick – who collected 20 disposals and 372 metres gained to be one of North Melbourne's best against Sydney – has made a profound impact around the club since the start of the pre-season and is now being rewarded for his application.

"Yeah, he's in round one, there's the first selection. I think he's delivered what we've asked him to do," Noble said after Sydney defeated North Melbourne by 31 points at Giants Stadium on Sunday night.

"I'm pretty proud of what he's done, really. It's a hard pill to swallow, that one. Most clubs now tend to manoeuvre their lists around accordingly.

"I had to have that conversation with him to the reasons behind it – we were trying to open up another draft list spot. You understand it doesn’t sit comfortably with guys, particularly the public sentiment that comes with it. 

"I'm really proud by the way he's come back and the shape he's in. He's a really intelligent guy when it comes to the football; we've asked him to take on some mentoring of some younger guys in regards to the wing role and been really pleased with what he's done there. 

"I'm hoping his year will continue to extend and deliver some benefits for not only him but for us as well."


Former No.1 pick Paddy McCartin also looks set to restart his AFL career on the opening weekend of the season after producing another strong showing for Sydney, continuing a seamless transition into defence. 

The 25-year-old was signed by the Swans at the end of January during the pre-season supplemental selection period, after spending last season playing for Sydney's VFL side and the summer training with the AFL program.

Tom and Paddy McCartin at the Sydney team photo day on February 16, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

McCartin has slotted into Sydney's backline over the pre-season alongside his younger brother Tom and looks almost certain to face Greater Western Sydney at Accor Stadium in less than a fortnight.

"I think the pleasing thing with Paddy is he's worked really hard to get back onto an AFL list and from there he's playing a different position as well," Sydney assistant coach Dean Cox said.

"To be able to adjust and play back, he has worked extremely hard and trained well over the pre-season, which has put him in a position to play both of these games and put his name up for round one. At the minute, you'd have to say he's close (to selection for round one)."