BRAYDON Preuss is "pissed off" he's yet to play a senior game this season, but the ruckman hasn't given up hope of a recall as North Melbourne bids to return to the finals.
Preuss was one of North's big improvers last year, breaking through to play eight senior games.
North was impressed enough with the 206cm Queenslander's robust ruck work and contested marking in attack that it extended his contract last October until the end of 2020.
However, Preuss has been stuck in the VFL so far this season as the Kangaroos have opted to play one ruckman and longtime incumbent Todd Goldstein has cemented that position, producing his most consistent form since his 2015 All Australian year.
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Preuss' form for North's VFL team has been strong. In 11 games this year, he is averaging 45.8 hit-outs and 15.5 hit-outs to advantage a game, along with 12.7 possessions and 2.9 marks.
All the 23-year-old wants now is another chance at AFL level.
"It would annoy anyone playing in the twos, because we're here to play AFL not VFL," Preuss told AFL.com.au this week.
"But 'Goldy' is in good form and why change a winning formula? As much as it pisses me off, it's understandable."
Preuss' main focus this year has been on improving his play around the ground.
"(I'm) just trying to get around the ground, they want me to try to take those contested marks," he said.
"The ruck work has always got to be there, but you look at (Brodie) Grundy and (Max) Gawn and all those sort of boys getting 20-plus touches a game. Yeah, (I'm) just trying to do that pretty much."
Preuss believes there is still room for him and Goldstein in the same team, pointing to the successful partnership Grundy has built at Collingwood with American Mason Cox.
"They're going all right, so I should probably tell 'Scotty' (coach Brad Scott) that," he said with a laugh.
Despite being on the outer at selection, Preuss has enjoyed watching his teammates defy widespread predictions that the Kangaroos would finish near – or at – the bottom of the ladder in 2018.
Ninth after 15 rounds, just percentage behind eighth-placed Geelong, a finals campaign beckons if the Roos can finish the season strongly.
And if North returns to September action after a year's absence, Preuss wants to be part of it.
For now, all he can do is press his case in the VFL for a recall. If his opportunity comes, he knows he has to seize it.
"You're always just one injury away (from a recall) but in the time I've been here I've never seen Goldy miss a game through injury, so everyone's just got to stay ready to play AFL," he says.
"I can't wait for my next opportunity. I don't know when it's going to be.
"Hopefully we'll play finals this year and I can sneak into the side before that. But who knows?"