When you're playing against Geelong, they've got no idea and we've got no idea what they're doing, so it's actually a really good exercise.
North’s competitive training sessions against Geelong at Simonds Stadium have added an unprecedented dynamic to pre-season training, and the move has made a fan out of one of the game's biggest names.
Veteran Brent Harvey says the hit-outs with the Cats have been approached in good spirits by both clubs, and could provide a significant advantage down the track.
"I like it. I was really sceptical at the start, (thinking) it's only going to take one bloke to get someone into the ground and it's going to be all over,” Harvey told the Herald Sun’s Jay Clark.
"As long as we treat them very similar to what we treat each other at training - you get the opportunity to bury someone, you just don't do it this time of year - (so there's) the respect.”
The brainchild of opposition coaches Brad and Chris Scott, the sessions involve some end-to-end stoppage drills allowing both clubs to fine-tune game plans and despite lasting just 40 minutes, Harvey believes the benefits are significant.
"When you're doing your stuff (at normal training) you're mirroring each other, so the mids know what the mids are doing, the backs know what the forwards are doing, where they're leading...It's really hard to get great match practice out of it," he added.
"When you're playing against Geelong, they've got no idea and we've got no idea what they're doing, so it's actually a really good exercise."
The chance to match-up emerging youngsters against some of the game’s stars is also unique outside the heat of a game.
"Tell me five years ago, (we'd be training with Geelong) I'd be saying no, not a chance at all.
"But it's worked really well.
"You get to see how (Joel) Selwood and Stevie Johnson train and for our young boys it's a good experience.”
In positive news for the Roos, Daniel Wells took part in last week's match simulation drills against the Cats and was at times matched up on James Kelly. Ben Cunnington has been enjoying duels in the middle opposing Joel Selwood, while Robbie Tarrant found himself matched up on former forward James Podsiadly for a period. Harvey and Paul Chapman went toe-to-toe for several stoppages but Todd Goldstein missed out on the opportunity to ruck against Hamish McIntosh with the former Roo watching from the sidelines.