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Sky's the limit

Jed Anderson and Marley Williams pose with UFC stars Kelvin Gastelum and Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesnya

Emerging midfielder Jed Anderson doesn't expect rivals to make the same mistake of underestimating North Melbourne next year.

The Kangaroos were widely tipped to claim the wooden spoon in 2018, but instead remained in the finals race for much of the season and eventually finished ninth with 12 wins.

Anderson's breakout campaign, after entering the season with just one year left on his contract and his career in the balance, was one of the reasons North exceeded expectations.

The once injury-cursed ex-Hawk managed only 25 games in his first five seasons, but played 21 of a possible 22 matches this year and set personal-best numbers almost across the board.

Anderson, 24, averaged 19.7 disposals (10.9 contested), 5.2 tackles and 4.6 clearances as he went some way to vindicating the Roos' decision to part with a first-round pick for him in 2015.

His next challenge is developing his game away from stoppages, something he is working hard on this off-season.

"It was really important (to have a good run with injury) and really exciting what I did this year," Anderson said.

"I'm looking to build on that and get that continuity going and have another big season … and take my game to a new level."

Anderson's contract negotiations stretched into October before he agreed to a fresh deal to stay at Arden St for another two seasons. 

"I didn't really think about it too much," he said.

"I just worried about playing footy and enjoying what I did in the pre-season and coming into games and the back half of the year I sat down with the club and went through that.

"There wasn't any point where I wasn't going to get a deal; it was just (about) me playing good footy and concentrating on that."

The midfield bull looms as a key cog in the Kangaroos' onball rotation in 2019, alongside Shaun Higgins, Ben Cunnington, Ben Jacobs, Paul Ahern and recruits Jared Polec, Dom Tyson and Aaron Hall.

Luke Davies-Uniacke, the No.4 pick in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, is also expected to contend for more midfield time.

"We've got a lot of improvement (to come)," Anderson said.

"We showed a lot of teams last year what we can do and if we do play our best footy, we can be up there with the top teams and we're looking to do that and challenge the competition.

"They know we're coming and we're really building and what we did last (season) shocked some teams and we're looking to do that again."

Anderson was back training five weeks ago and again avoided post-season surgery as he bids to back up his strong 2018 efforts. 

"All the group's jelling together and the new draftees and the new blokes we've got in the club here are really going well," he said.

"We're getting our game styles and conditioning progress right and we're looking forward to the back half (of pre-season)."

Anderson was joined by Marley Williams and UFC stars Kelvin Gastelum and Israel ‘The Last Stylebender’ Adesnya on Tuesday afternoon, who are currently promoting their fights on the UFC 234 card in February.

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