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Why North cut Gibson

Heath O'Loughlin  October 12, 2017 11:39 AM

It was a controversial decision to let veteran midfielder Sam Gibson go, but North Melbourne list manager, Michael McMahon, insists it was the right move for the future of the club.

Speaking on the Roos’ in-house podcast NMFC On Air, McMahon understands why some people, including Gibson, we’re surprised by the move.

“It’s probably, as much as anything, a reflection on where our list is at at the moment and a little bit about what our philosophy is,” McMahon said.

“We’ve been pretty aggressive throughout the course of the year in terms of targeting some of the players we’ve already talked about [Dustin Martin and Josh Kelly] and I guess in some ways our approach to the management of our existing list has extended to that.

“Some people might look upon it as being reasonably aggressive in delisting a player like Sam, and that’s probably right because he’s been a terrific player that’s played 130 games in a row, he’s been a model of consistency but at the same time, we’ve got to be mindful as we talked about before, about trying to build a bit for the future.

“We’re mindful of the fact that having finished 15th, we want to make every effort to make sure that we’re evolving our list and unfortunately Sam’s probably a casualty of that.”

North’s General Manager of Football, Cameron Joyce, said the club needed to take advantage of this year’s Draft and that meant making tough decisions on list management.

“Some year’s you’re happy to take the minimum three picks, other times you want to have four or five picks and have a good go at it,” Joyce said.

“If Sam was here next year, we know we’d play him – he’d play every game which for him would be fantastic but for us, it would be another year down the track where we’d need to see some of those young kids and develop the next wave of North Melbourne midfielders.”

That ‘next wave’ makes for exciting times ahead according to Joyce.

Paul Ahern in particular - a former No.7 Draft pick in 2014 - is one player with massive potential.

“We need to see Jy Simpkin play in the midfield. We need to see what Paul Ahern can do. We need to see Luke McDonald take the next step as a midfielder. Declan Mountford can play wing as well … Josh Williams, Mitch Hibberd is another one that we probably saw bits and pieces of throughout the year … there are a number of guys, and that’s probably backing in the 13 debutants and Paul Ahern, who hasn’t played a game of AFL footy yet so I think we’re all excited to see what he can do.

“He (Ahern) hasn’t missed a beat. The boys have really enjoyed his company and got around him in what was a tough year being in the rehab group for twelve months, but he goes to Utah sort of being able to rip in and get into the full program and then be able to come back and join the rest of the team [at Arden St] and hopefully have a strong preseason and put his hand up for JLT one.”

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