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The big 2018 upside

Heath O'Loughlin  October 12, 2017 4:12 PM

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Player availability is a big focus for North Melbourne heading into 2018 according to General Manager of Football, Cameron Joyce.

The club’s season was derailed by serious injuries to several key players this past season and he told NMFC On Air – the club’s podcast – that the Roos are keen to avoid a repeat.

“We’re on the hunt for a new high-performance manager which we’re excited about – strengthening the department downstairs,” Joyce revealed.

“That’s going to be a big thing for us – player availability – being able to get these guys out [to play] and getting some continuity in their footy.

“Kayne Turner and Marley Williams were first and second in the best and fairest at halfway and then missed a chunk of footy that put them eleventh and thirteenth when the best and fairest finished. Mason’s [Wood] another one, Benny Jacobs has missed the last two years. Sammy Wright as well.”

North’s Anytime Fitness injury list didn’t make for good reading at times during the season, but Joyce said the positive is the upside for the club heading into next year.

Wright, Jacobs, Paul Ahern and Oscar Junker missed the entire year, while Wood, Turner, Marley Williams, Jamie Macmillan, Ed Vickers Willis, Jarrad Waite, Majak Daw, Jack Ziebell and Mitch Hibberd all struggled with various injuries. Add to that list Todd Goldstein, who was down on form for most of the year, and the potential for a significant uplift is clear.

For Jacobs, Joyce believes the midfielder is progressing well following a series of foot issues that have ruined his past two seasons.

“Ben’s been in almost every day,” Joyce said.

“He took a little trip up to Byron Bay with Shaun Higgins and Jona Segal, our strength and conditioning coach, just to so a little mini-camp, and Trent Dumont’s been up there as well, so he’s been training all the way through, starting to do a little bit of running – a little bit of over ground running now.

“We’re reasonably positive at the moment but also trying to keep everything in perspective. It’s been a rocky road for him but the signs at the moment are positive.”

Joyce also mentioned players like Taylor Garner who had confidence boosting seasons, suggesting it’s time for them to go to another level.

“Someone like Taylor starts the preseason now knowing that he’s played 18 games of footy in a row and he knows what’s expected and what’s needed at the level so he can go in with some really clear direction,” Joyce said.

For more trade news, visit the NAB AFL Trade Hub, brought to you by Anytime Fitness.