FORGET Good Friday for a second. The more pertinent question for North Melbourne is now whether the club warrants a priority pick.
The Kangaroos' underwhelming start to the season will renew calls for the club to be awarded a priority draft selection, with the Roos' record since the end of 2019 matching those of other clubs who have been afforded AFL assistance.
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The Roos have copped two beltings in the first five rounds of this season, with their Good Friday thrashing at the hands of the Western Bulldogs coming after a 108-point loss to Brisbane in round three as well as a round one defeat to Hawthorn. Their only win so far came against a COVID-ravaged West Coast in round two.
Whilst early in the season, the first five weeks of the year has continued a two-year trend that has seen the Roos' win-loss record spiral to eight victories from their past 44 games since the start of 2020.
Their one win so far this year comes on the back of four victories and a draw last season and three wins in 2020. Their fixture is getting no easier, either, with next week's trip to Tasmania to host Geelong followed by the in-form Carlton in round seven and a trip to Optus Stadium to take on Fremantle in round eight.
Should they win five games this season, the Roos would have claimed 12 wins from 61 games. Since making the finals in 2016, North Melbourne has finished 15th, ninth, 12th, 17th and 18th.
The AFL no longer has a hard-and-fast set rule for awarding priority picks and offering assistance to struggling clubs but a look at the past four times it has given out list concessions shows the Roos' form line to be similarly placed to those who have been granted concessions.
North Melbourne has not discussed making an application for a priority pick.
The League's executive is charged with providing advice to the Commission on priority pick and list concession calls once a club has applied.
In 2019, Gold Coast had won seven games from its previous two season before it was given a huge assistance package that included the No.1 pick – Matt Rowell – as well as a suite of draft selections and Academy concessions, including the ability to pre-list Academy talents without matching bids.
A year earlier, in 2018, the Suns had claimed 20 wins from their past four seasons when they, as well as Carlton (eight wins over two seasons) were given the ability to pre-list state league players – either to keep them or then trade them on in other deals.
In 2016, the last time a club was handed a single pick as a priority selection, Brisbane was given pick No.19 at the draft after claiming seven wins over two seasons. Kangaroos coach David Noble was then the Lions' football manager and this type of end-of-first-round concession seems the far more likely outcome than a priority pick at the top of the draft like Gold Coast's.
The addition of the mid-season draft, which the Roos had the No.1 pick in last year, is also a list mechanism for struggling sides that has been reintroduced that could counter a priority pick application.
Injuries to key players have hurt the Roos in the opening weeks, with midfielders Tarryn Thomas, Luke Davies-Uniacke and Will Phillips all unavailable at stages and veteran Ben Cunnington overcoming his cancer battle.
WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR AFL ASSISTANCE?
North Melbourne in 2021: Eight wins in previous 44 games, six seasons without finals.
Gold Coast in 2019: Seven wins in previous two seasons, nine seasons without finals.
- Pick No.1 and pick No.20 in 2019 NAB AFL Draft
- Pick No.11 in 2020 NAB AFL Draft
- Pick No.19 in 2021 NAB AFL Draft
- Increased rookie list, Darwin as Academy zone, ability to pre-sign Academy players
Gold Coast in 2018: 20 wins in previous four seasons, eight seasons without finals.
- Ability to pre-list three state league players
- Increased rookie list
Carlton in 2018: Eight wins in previous two seasons, five seasons without finals.
- Ability to pre-list two state league players
Brisbane in 2016: Seven wins in previous two seasons, seven seasons without finals.
- Pick No.19