The Kangaroos' key defensive stocks have taken a hit in this past week. Ben McKay is unavailable due to concussion, Josh Walker may not be available to play due to the League's health and safety protocols, and Matt McGuinness is fighting his way back from a foot injury.
Should Walker be available this weekend, he's the most obvious selection to replace McKay at the heart of the Kangaroos defence. His size and experience could be a huge asset going into week two of the season.
If Walker can't play though, the Kangaroos may have to reshape their backline, and enter the game with no definite match-up for the likes of West Coast's 236-game veteran Jack Darling and 197cm Hugh Dixon. Forward pair Oscar Allen and Josh Kennedy have already been ruled out.
Jack Ziebell took the fight to Hawthorn's Mitch Lewis on the weekend and could be called upon to play tall again, while Aiden Bonar has played centre half-back to good effect in North's VFL program when called upon.
Kyron Hayden is another strong, athletic mid-sized defender who could be tasked with playing tall. David Noble could even throw a cat amongst the pigeons and select Charlie Comben to play at his non-preferred end of the ground, or, if he's fit, McGuinness could come in for a long-awaited debut.
Even if Walker does play, all eyes will be on how the Kangaroos' defence shapes up ahead of Sunday's opening bounce.
Three rucks again?
One of the main storylines throughout the Kangaroos pre-season was surrounding which rucks would play Round 1. David Noble is a coach who likes to play with two bona-fide rucks in his side, but there were three pushing hard for selection.
Noble's solution was to rotate Tristan Xerri and Todd Goldstein through the middle of the ground against the Hawks, while Callum Coleman-Jones played as a stay-at-home forward to support Nick Larkey.
Should Noble run with the three rucks again, the roles of the trio could be adjusted. Xerri, who attended the game's opening bounce, played possibly the best senior game of his young career looks like a lock to stay in the middle of the ground, so the question arises around Todd Goldstein and Callum Coleman-Jones.
Goldstein impressed when he was thrown forward against the Hawks, kicking two goals and providing a strong target up the line.
Does Noble play the trio in the same roles as last week? Does Goldstein become a stay at home forward with Coleman-Jones playing ruck? Does a medium-sized forward like Eddie Ford or Paul Curtis come into the side at the expense of one of the three talls?
The best thing about this selection headache is Noble has options, and he'll look to run with the line-up that best exposes the weaknesses in West Coast's defence.
Eagles ins and outs
West Coast could line up with a vastly different side this weekend compared to the team that lost to Gold Coast in Round 1.
Josh Kennedy looks set to miss due to health and safety protocols, but the players that could potentially come in this week for the Eagles is basically a list of some of their most important players.
Tim Kelly, Liam Ryan and Jack Darling are all available for selection after overcoming various injuries and absences over the pre-season, while former Lion Alex Witherden is returning from suspension.
Defence/midfield option Liam Duggan will be a late fitness test and could come into the side alongside captain and two-time best and fairest winner Luke Shuey.
Willie Rioli is also available after the Tribunal overturned his one-game suspension for a heavy bump on Matt Rowell.
That's one potential big out in Kennedy, but up to six big inclusions Adam Simpson could call upon. Are any of those potential inclusions underdone, and if so, who doesn't play?
On the board at home?
The second-half performance of the Kangaroos in Round 1 was, without a doubt, frustrating.
If the performance from the first half can be reproduced and held over the whole game this weekend though, North is in with a serious chance of chalking up a solid victory.
After the past two seasons of uncertainty surrounding crowds and fixturing, the opportunity to play in front of a roaring home crowd at Marvel is one that has every Kangaroo itching to be named in the 22.
Get down to Marvel on Sunday and support your Kangaroos!
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AFL R2 match report: Larkey kicks six as Roos down makeshift Eagles
Nick Larkey helps deliver the Roos' opening win for 2022
By North Media with Trent Masenhelder - AFL.com.au on
It was a game North Melbourne was expected to win, a match they simply had to win.
And despite losing two of their stars, never playing their best footy or looking totally comfortable for much of the contest, the Roos finally completed the assignment and got their 2022 campaign underway.
With West Coast going in to the round two clash with a VFL/AFL record 14 changes – 12 of them due to health and safety protocols – all of the pressure was on David Noble's young side, who were a shade disappointing in their round one loss to Hawthorn a week ago.
Perhaps North felt some of that pressure, but that may be unkind to the decimated Eagles, who were mightily brave and kept pushing until the final siren, before eventually suffering a 15-point loss, 10.14 (74) to 8.11 (59).
Willie Rioli (four goals) kicked the opening goal of the game after eight minutes, before Nick Larkey (six goals) booted two majors in the space of five minutes. Tarryn Thomas added North's third goal – a dribbler from inside the centre square – with five minutes remaining until the first break, but Rioli's second a minute before the break saw the Eagles trail by just six points.
The Roos were dealt some rotten luck in the second term, losing Luke Davies-Uniacke and Thomas to injury. Davies-Uniacke's head hit the turf during a tackle by Rioli, before Thomas' afternoon was cut short courtesy of a knock to the ribs.
It took 10 minutes for the first goal of the second quarter to be kicked, with Josh Mahony the beneficiary of a 50-metre penalty against Alex Witherden. Larkey gave North some breathing room when he registered his third goal, from right in front, thanks to a costly Witherden turnover. Liam Duggan cut the margin to 15 points, when he kicked just the 10th goal of his career, but Larkey replied soon after with his fourth. Bailey Williams breathed life into the Eagles' cause on the stroke of half-time, after he crumbed a goal from the marking pack he contested.
The plucky Eagles were well and truly up for the fight after the main break. They were the better side for much of the term, but Kayne Turner's two goal-term meant their efforts went largely unrewarded, winning the quarter by just one point.
The game was up for grabs during the final term, with both sides making mistakes and failing to take their chances.
Jack Darling, who had just six disposals on return from his delayed start to the year after failing to fulfil the requirements of the AFL's COVID-19 vaccination protocols, had the opportunity to cut the margin to within two goals at the 19-minute mark but his decision to kick around the corner from a slight angle backfired.
Larkey, the lone key forward to impact the game, finally finished the Eagles off, bagging his sixth major with just three minutes remaining, as Noble and co. breathed a massive sigh of relief.
"We just took it as another game, they've still got some really great players," Larkey told Fox Footy post-game.
"The boys that did fill in from the WAFL did a great job.
"We were going to come out with good intent; it's good to get the job done.
North's win comes at a cost
The Roos will be sweating on the fitness of midfield stars Davies-Uniacke and Thomas, who both failed to play out the game after suffering injury during the second quarter. Davies-Uniacke will miss at least next week's match against Brisbane after his head hit the Marvel Stadium surface in the early stages of the second quarter following a tackle by Rioli. Thomas, meanwhile, came from the field after he copped a leg to the ribs when diving to spoil a kick by Luke Foley, and was later seen in the North rooms on an ambulance stretcher.
Incredibly, the Eagles made a VFL/AFL record 14 changes – 12 of them due to health and safety protocols - from their round one loss to Gold Coast in Perth last Sunday, while just nine of West Coast's 2018 Grand Final-winning side lined up against the Roos. As if Adam Simpson hadn't endured enough, the Eagles' coach was dealt another blow when conducting a pre-game interview with Fox Footy. Simpson was interrupted with the news that Jackson Nelson was unfit to play after injuring a knee during the warm-up. Nelson was replaced by former Roos Declan Mountford, who was dressed in civvies, chatting in the lift to Fox Footy's Dermott Brereton, just minutes before the bounce. In another twist, Mountford made his debut for North against West Coast in round one, 2017; the last time these sides met at Docklands.
Route one football
Footy doesn't get more efficient than North's third goal. Kicking out after a behind, Aaron Hall went down the guts for Tarryn Thomas to mark and accelerate to leave his Eagle opponent clutching air. A single running bounce took Thomas to within 70m and with an empty forward arc beckoning, he set sail and tumbled the ball home. 16 seconds elapsed from the kick-out to the goal.