NORTH Melbourne's season is languishing.

After six straight defeats by an average margin of more than 10 goals, the Kangaroos are in desperate need of reinvigoration and rejuvenation.

Here are five things the club must do to get its faltering campaign back on track.


This is a quick-fix and would at least provide some short-term competitiveness.

While the likes of Jason Horne-Francis, Tarryn Thomas, Will Phillips, Tom Powell and Luke Davies-Uniacke are undoubtedly the future of this football club, they are all under the age of 23 and can't – nor shouldn't – be relied upon to deliver consistent results now.

That should be left up to the over 26s.

North Melbourne has 11 players over the age of 26 on its list. Eight of them played in last weekend's loss to Fremantle. Only one had more than 16 disposals. Only two laid more than one tackle.

Liam Henry evades a Kayne Turner tackle during the Fremantle-North Melbourne clash in round eight on May 6, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

One of Noble's priorities should be to ensure these players are providing the benchmark for the youngsters to follow. Too often, the leadership is being left to the kids who instead should be given time to develop and work on their own craft.

It's no surprise that in the side's only win this season that Hugh Greenwood (29 disposals, nine clearances, 10 tackles) led the way in the midfield, Jack Ziebell (29 disposals, 14 marks, eight intercepts) was key down back, while Kayne Turner (eight score involvements, seven tackles, two goals) set the blueprint in attack.

Meanwhile, in one of the side's most impressive performances – a narrow loss to Sydney at the SCG – Ziebell (five goals, seven score involvements) was the main man, while Todd Goldstein (16 disposals, 13 hitouts, two goals) enjoyed one of his best individual displays of the season.

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Captain Jack's five-goal haul in standout performance

Jack Ziebell gets the chance to play forward and stands up for his team with a bag of goals at the SCG

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North Melbourne needs more of that, and more often.


North Melbourne's performances over the last six weeks, which have featured five defeats by more than 50 points and have also included a 108-point loss to Brisbane, couldn't be more uninspiring.

So, if the senior players aren't providing effort, see if the kids will. There are a host of youngsters playing at reserves level, both capped and uncapped, who would surely relish the opportunity.

One-game forward Charlie Comben wasn't picked for last week's demoralising loss to Fremantle, despite Nick Larkey's one-game suspension and despite kicking four goals in his last VFL match prior to the trip out west. See if the 20-year-old would add a new and athletic dimension to the forward line.

Charlie Comben celebrates a goal in the VFL. Picture: @charliecomben Instagram

The club's pair of 2020 first-round picks, Phillips and Powell, have begun plying their trade at VFL level again after the former dealt with glandular fever earlier this season and the latter battled a minor calf niggle. When fully fit and available, could they provide at least a glimmer of hope in a midfield group that ranks 12th for clearance and 16th for contested ball this year?

Matt McGuinness is a 192cm defender who could add size to a backline group that has lacked it all year. His strong left-foot kicking could also provide a valuable offensive weapon from half-back.


If North Melbourne thinks that its future in the ruck is the 23-year-old Tristan Xerri and the 22-year-old Callum Coleman-Jones, then play them.

The exciting young ruck duo are yet to feature in tandem throughout the first eight weeks of the year. The only time they've played together, in round one, Goldstein was also playing and Coleman-Jones didn't feature in a single centre bounce ruck contest.

The future of Goldstein at Arden Street, who turns 34 later this year and is uncontracted beyond this season, remains an unknown. The future of Xerri, who is 11 years his junior and is also uncontracted beyond this season, is also unknown.

North Melbourne ruckmen (L-R): Callum Coleman-Jones, Todd Goldstein, Tristan Xerri. Pictures: AFL Photos

Coleman-Jones, meanwhile, was brought into the club from Richmond on a four-year deal last October. He has played just three games this season, two of which came after Xerri went down with a foot injury.

As long as the Kangaroos see Xerri and Coleman-Jones as their future, they should do as much as possible to prioritise playing them together.


North Melbourne has problems on both sides of the field.

Their average score of 59.4 points per game is the second-fewest of any team in the AFL, behind only West Coast. Their average score conceded of 106.9 points per game is the second-most of any team in the League, again behind only West Coast.

Up forward, Larkey has taken on the bulk of the key-position responsibilities. Aside from the second ruckman, Ziebell and Cam Zurhaar (both just 188cm) have predominantly been the club's only other marking targets.

Down back, injuries at inopportune times to Ben McKay and Josh Walker have forced the club to rely on Aidan Corr (194cm), Aiden Bonar (189cm) and Ziebell to play above their height. Just a fortnight ago, Bonar was forced to play on Carlton's 204cm marking beast Harry McKay.

Harry McKay takes a diving mark in front of Aiden Bonar during the Carlton-North Melbourne clash in round seven on April 30, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

How does the side get height into these areas? Comben, at 199cm, has too often been overlooked forward of the ball. McGuinness, at 192cm, could provide another decent option down back.

Jacob Edwards, the first pick in last season's NAB AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft, stands at 202cm and is a long-term prospect not yet ready for senior football. He is one the club will understandably stash away.

But another means of bringing talent into these areas might present itself later in the year.


Realistically, North Melbourne is going to have a very early pick at the NAB AFL Draft.

As things stand, though, the draft's top order is going to be largely dominated by midfielders and small-to-medium types. Will Ashcroft, Harry Sheezel, Elijah Tsatas and George Wardlaw are, at this stage, likely to be among the first few chosen.

The Kangaroos, courtesy of using first-round picks on Horne-Francis, Phillips, Powell, Thomas, Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin in recent years, are well stocked in the midfield area.

Jason Horne-Francis in action in North Melbourne's clash with the Western Bulldogs in round five, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

So, if there is a buyer available, could North Melbourne split its early pick – potentially for two first-round selections – and get both the key-position talent it needs and multiple early picks to continue fast-tracking its rebuild?

Alternatively, could they boldly trade a future first-round pick to get back into this year's draft for a second time, giving them another crack at securing the bigger-bodied youngster they desperately need?

West Adelaide forward Harry Lemmey, at 199cm, is the early frontrunner to be the first key-position player taken at the draft. There remains a chance he could also still be available after pick No.5. 

The potential of retaining its own selection and taking him early, and the potential of trading back into the draft and taking him later, would both carry elements of risk. But fortune often favours the brave. The Kangaroos won't get anywhere by standing idly by.