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‘The sky’s the limit’

PRESS PLAY above to watch the Jack Ziebell interview. As the start of pre-season training edges closer, North captain Jack Ziebell is refusing to write next season off, and says the sky's the limit for 2018.

As the start of pre-season training edges closer, North captain Jack Ziebell is refusing to write next season off, and says the sky’s the limit for 2018.

“My message to our supporters and fans would be, don’t write us off just yet - come watch us and watch us improve. It’s going to be an exciting year,” Ziebell said.

The young leader taking exception to early, pessimistic predictions.

“They are expecting us to be down the bottom of the ladder next year, and I can tell you firmly within the four walls of our footy club, we firmly disagree,” Ziebell declared.

“We think we’ve got a really, really strong group of players that are ready to compete at the highest level.

“I think when we play our best football, we are going to be very, very hard to beat.”

The 26-year-old believes there are plenty of positives to take from 2017, in particular, North’s competitiveness.

“We had that tanking talk around for probably the last six weeks of the season, and everyone was sort of saying, ‘what have they got to play for? Why don’t you just lose every game and get the number one pick?'” Ziebell said.

“No matter whether you’re playing for finals or Round 23 and you are going to finish 14th or 18th, there’s still plenty on the line.

“As captain, you take a lot of that talk personally.

“I couldn’t play in Round 23, but the guys went out there and I think the way they performed and got the job done quite easily against Brisbane, showed that North Melbourne is not a team that has ever tanked, or will tank. It’s just not in our DNA.”

What Ziebell is most excited for in 2018, is watching the development of the young Roos, including the eleven fresh faces who debuted last season.

“I think it’s one of the better feelings as captain of the football club when you see young guys make their debut,” Ziebell said.

“...just to see them develop in 12 months has really got me excited for next year."

The 2017 debutants made up the majority of the 19 of North’s future stars who travelled to Utah for an intense two-week training camp, where they undertook a variety of conditioning programs at altitude.

Ziebell also pointed to the return of a handful of important players who missed large parts of the season through injury.

“Last year we definitely missed a couple of our injured guys. You look at the guys who were probably missing for large parts of the year ... Jamie Macmillan and Jy Simpkin missed games here and there, and Kayne Turner and Marley Williams,” Ziebell said.

“These are the types of guys we would love to have in our team.

“They make us a better side and we are looking forward to getting them back in the pre-season, get them all fit again, and get back into 2018.”

Ziebell too will be looking for an injury free run when training commences on Monday November 13.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs