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VFL: Leading by example

A strong foundation built on the back of a tight-knit leadership group has North Melbourne in good stead ahead of the club’s inaugural VFL game against the Northern Blues on Sunday. 

With pre-season preparations now complete, Roos’ co-captain Chris Jansen has underlined the significance of the looming milestone. 

“We’re looking to getting into our first game now as a standalone North Melbourne team,” Jansen told SEN.

“It’s been really interesting for some of us guys coming in from different states all around the country, getting to learn the North Melbourne way.”

The experience for Jansen has been a unique one, with the former Central Districts' midfielder working closely with the club’s AFL and VFL-listed players.  

“The thing that’s been the most impressive is how excited the AFL boys are to play with the standalone VFL team, being the Kangaroos for the first time, how proud they are of the club and how much they want to succeed as a group,” he explained.

“I’m really looking forward to the year and hopefully we can start this weekend against the Northern Blues.”

The high-performing midfielder, who will also manage an assistant coaching role with the club, shares the leadership duties with versatile big man and former AFL-listed recruit Michael Close as the club’s co-captains.

Despite the infancy of their roles, Jansen speaks with enthusiasm about the fledgling relationship the pair has developed over the pre-season, which saw North win three of its four scheduled practice matches.

“We did paper-scissors-rock for the AIS game at the MCG, cause I guess we both wanted to toss the coin,” Jansen joked.

“’Closey’ won that one, so he got to toss the coin and I got stuck having to make the speech, which is always interesting.

“I think we’re really excited to share the role and we’ve got a terrific leadership group in the VFL as well, so we’re all sharing the load a bit and just getting differences that way.”

The club has enlisted a six-man leadership group to usher in the 2018 season with Jansen and Close supported by distinguished midfielders Nick Rippon, Jordan Harper and Nash Homes, and complimented by established VFL veteran Steven Stroobants, who adds a wealth of experience to the leadership group.

Jansen made a point to acknowledge the differing roles of each player as the club looks to build on the promising start to the year. 

“The good thing we’ve done at North is that we’ve all got different roles within our leadership group,” he said.

“Myself and Closey are pretty much in charge of the tactical side of things and how guys are going with their footy development, football knowledge and how they’re playing.

“There’s another few guys in [Jordan] Harper and [Nick] Rippon, who are in charge of standards around the club. Same with Nash Holmes, who is another young guy, who is in charge of standards around the club. 

“Then we have Steven Stroobants … he’s doing a lot work with the social side and how guys are fitting in with the club and just making sure they are mentally okay.

“We have a lot of different areas that we try and cover ourselves, but I guess it just comes down to communication as well to make sure we know what’s going on. But at the end of the day, we like to consider anyone the possibility to be a leader if they shout out on the ground, that’s what we want from all our boys.”

Fans are invited to attend Sunday’s VFL match against the Northern Blues at Avalon Airport Oval, first bounce at 1.00pm. Entry to home games is free for NMFC members.

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