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VFL: Round 2 Preview

Premiership points will be on the line for the first time when North Melbourne’s standalone VFL side face the Northern Blues at Avalon Airport Oval on Sunday afternoon.

A strong squad has been named for the season-opener, with 17 members of the starting 18 being AFL-listed players. The healthy competition for spots has allowed David Loader the opportunity to tinker with his successful pre-season formula, which saw North win three of its four pre-season hit-outs.

The Roos welcome back Oscar Junker, who has been given the green light to return to action following a fortnight on the sidelines with concussion. The 20-year-old will slot into North’s midfield, partnering Mitch Hibberd and Will Walker.

Fresh off his strong display against the AFL Academy last weekend, Braydon Preuss has retained his place in the side. The towering ruck will aim to continue his dominant pre-season form against Northern’s Andrew Philips, who was a standout in the Blues' loss to Collingwood last weekend.

A sibling rivalry could also be on display with Ben McKay named at centre half-back. The developing big man is expected to line up opposite to his twin brother Harry, who has been confirmed at centre half-forward for the Blues.

With only the formalities remaining, North co-captain Chris Jensen is thrilled to be leading his side out for the first time ahead of a promising 2018 campaign for the royal blue and white brigade.

“We’re really excited for our first game of the year and we’re excited to get out there and play,” Jansen told North Media. 

“For those boys that do get the chance to play, they’ll be very excited to give it their best shot. It’s good for the strength of the VFL team, it also makes us all work hard to get our spot.

“There’s no guaranteed positions on any week for us. We’ve got to work hard and put our best foot forward to make sure we earn selection, which is going to improve us.”

Jansen’s thoughts were echoed by co-captain Michael Close, who will use his experience in the AFL system at Brisbane to mentor the emerging list of youngsters. 

“We’ve had a good pre-season, the boys have all come in pretty fit and healthy, which is one of the main things you want to get out of pre-season,” Close said. 

“We all know the game plan, so hopefully the way we’ve performed throughout the practice matches puts us in line for a good year.”

Find North’s 27-man squad below:

B: Tom Murphy, Sam Durdin, Daniel Nielson
HB: Alex Morgan, Ben McKay, Sam Wright
C: Mitch Hibberd, Oscar Junker, Will Walker
HF
: Josh Williams, Tristan Xerri, Mason Wood
F: Declan Mountford, Nick Larkey, Cameron Zurhaar
R: Braydon Preuss, Nick Rippon, Paul Ahern
Int: Fraser Cameron, Michael Close, Jordan Harper, Nash Holmes, Chris Jansen, Tyrone Leonardis, Gordon Narrier, Mitch Rodd
23P: Louis Cunningham

Fans are invited to attend Sunday’s VFL match against the Northern Blues at Avalon Airport Oval, with the first bounce at 1.00pm. Entry to home games is free for NMFC members. The game will also be streamed live and exclusive through NMFC.com.au and the North App on Sunday afternoon,commencing at 12:45pm.

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