Injury forced Scott Thompson out of last week’s JLT Series opener, but watching on TV at home gave him a perfect glimpse of the future of North’s defence.
Declan Watson, Matt Taylor and Sam Durdin all got their chance in the North colours, and all impressed.
But one man in particular caught the eye of the 2013 All-Australian.
“Sam Durdin really stood up playing full back,” Thompson told the RSN Breakfast Club on Friday morning.
“He hasn’t played an AFL game yet and he was nearly our most experienced key defender last week.
“We’ll be looking for him to play plenty of games this year and really step up like he did last week.”
Returning from an adductor injury on Sunday, Thompson will settle in alongside Durdin in the back six.
In addition to playing his first game for the year, he’s counting down the days until he can play on Arden Street.
“I’ve played a few practice matches, a few intra clubs, but I wasn’t born when the last game (for points) was, in 1985,” Thompson said.
“For the members who used to come every week and watch us play there, I’m sure it’ll be really exciting for them to see footy back at Arden Street.”
With a sell-out crowd of approximately 5,000 expected on Sunday, the atmosphere will be a throwback to an era past.
“If you’ve got the apartments across the road you’ll have a nice view,” Thompson joked.
“There’s a lot of standing room so it’ll be like a country footy game which won’t be too bad.”
At this time of year there’s always discussion about the merits of the pre-season series; Thompson happy to weigh into the debate.
“I’d say the first couple of rounds would be a bit scratchy (with no pre-season),” he added.
“The pre-season intra club matches are one thing, then you’ve got the pre-season games, and they step up again, and obviously once you get into the real stuff it really steps up.
“It’s like a stepping stone up to Round 1, and if you took away that the standard level would be a little bit down in the first couple of rounds.”