Over the coming weeks, North Media will analyse the 2021 seasons of every player on the list.
To see all the reviews so far, click here.
1. Jack Mahony
19 games, 9 goals; 11.6 disposals, 2.8 marks, 3.2 tackles, 3.3 score involvements, 1.7 intercepts per game.
Jack Mahony’s game went from strength-to-strength in 2021, with the second-year player cementing himself as North Melbourne’s most important pressure forward.
Leading the team for tackles inside 50s per game (1.26), he improved his output in every major statistic compared to his debut 2020 season, including playing almost twice as many games.
After enduring the effects of an elbow knock for much of pre-season, North’s number one played every game of the season, bar the final two, with a shoulder injury cutting his season short.
One of the first names on the team list for almost the entirety of the year, the progression Mahony showed in all aspects of his game is not just promising, but downright encouraging.
Round 21 v Richmond
18 disposals, 5 tackles, 1 goal, 83.3 per cent disposal efficiency.
Not so much a moment, but more a collection. Jack Mahony’s 25 pressure acts against West Coast were absolutely crucial to the Kangaroos claiming victory.
Just a couple of Jack Mahony's 2??5?? pressure acts ?? pic.twitter.com/nZqpWdGoLT— North Melbourne (@NMFCOfficial) July 13, 2021
The fans said:
Another tweet to go along with my praise this week. Jack Mahony doesn’t stop trying. Pressure is his game. Keep playing him. Goals are not everything. @NMFCOfficial— Marcus Walsh (@marcuswalsh95) June 26, 2021
The coach said:
“His (Mahony’s) development is tracking the right way. He played an important role for us in our foward group and was a strong contributor. His pressure is not underrated in our forward line, and that was where he was a really strong contributor to our game.” - Heath Younie (forward coach).
2. Jaidyn Stephenson
19 games, 17 goals; 19.4 disposals, 5.7 marks, 2.5 tackles, 1.6 clearances, 4.8 score involvements.
Arguably North’s most high-profile recruit of a busy off-season, the early successes of Jaidyn Stephenson’s career make it easy to forget he’s still just 22 years old.
With the promise of more midfield time a key tipping point in Stephenson’s move to the club, the number two delivered in spades when pushed into the middle of the ground.
Hitting the ground running with 33 disposals and 7 tackles against Port Adelaide in Round 1, ‘Stevo’ put in consistent and promising performances before a wrist injury interrupted his season.
Returning from surgery in Round 13’s draw with the GWS Giants, it was his game-winning performances in Rounds 17 and 19 against Carlton and West Coast respectively that saw the birth of ‘Sleevo’, Stephenson’s long-sleeve wearing alter-ego.
Whether it be in the forward line, on the wing, or at the coalface, Stephenson was one of the most exciting players to pull on the royal blue and white across 2021, capping off the season with a deserved selection into the AFL Players' 22Under22 team.
Round 17 v West Coast
38 disposals, 1 goal, 10 marks, 4 tackles, 3 clearances.
10 minutes to go in the final term, three points up, away from home … Jaidyn Stephenson stepped up big time.
The fans said:
I say this every week but I bloody love Jaidyn Stephenson. He is such an impressive footballer and I know the ball is in safe hands when he’s got it. It’s refreshing.— maddie (@maddiemelb) April 24, 2021
The coach said:
“Obviously a major part of his (Stephenson’s) skillset is his speed, not only with the ball in hand, but also in his forward leading patterns. What he then developed as a midfielder was the ability to transition both ways and link up possessions through the arcs. The game that stands out the most is probably the West Coast game. His ability to generate possession and use it really helped our side and has given us a different look in our midfield. He sees the game really well and can give us some outside handball receive and run. He was a huge inclusion into our side. He’s been awesome.” - Jordan Russell (midfield coach).