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.
20. Nick Larkey
22 games, 42 goals; 9.6 disposals, 3.8 marks, 1.2 tackles, 1.1 contested marks, 4.7 score involvements per game
For the first time in his young career, Nick Larkey entered a pre-season knowing he was ‘the man’ in North’s forward line. The number one target, the main goal-kicker, and the 23-year-old took to the responsibility like a duck to water.
Kicking 42 goals for the season, Larkey finished in the top 20 of the Coleman Medal, and with an unwavering accuracy of 2.8 goals per behind, he was one of the most efficient goal kickers of the competition.
While registering impressive performances in Round 4 against Adelaide and Round 7 against Richmond, he truly came into his own in the second half of the season, as improved chemistry with the midfield enabled him to find more looks at goal.
Forming a lethal partnership with Cam Zurhaar, Larkey experienced a purple patch late in the season, kicking 13 goals in three weeks, with hauls of 3 goals against West Coast and Essendon, followed by a 7 goal bag against Carlton.
The improvement of ‘Souva’ in 2021 extends to far more than his goal kicking however, as he registered career-high averages in a number of key statistics including disposals, marks, score involvements and tackles inside 50.
To be the best, you have to beat the best, and a full season of battling with the opposition’s best key defender every week has done wonders for Larkey’s game.
The fact some of his strongest performances of the season came against experienced campaigners like Jacob Weitering, Tom Barrass and Kyle Hartigan should give Larkey the confidence to find yet another level in 2022.
Round 19 v Carlton
20 disposals, 7 goals, 8 marks, 3 contested marks, 13 score involvements, 3 intercepts
Round 19 against Carlton looks like it could truly be a coming of age game for Nick Larkey, with the young forward dominating Jacob Weitering and the Carlton defence to finish with 7 goals.
The fans said:
The coaches said:
“Nick’s obviously publicly stated that the way we played as a team helped and supported his form. The forwards are a by-product of what’s happening up the field. As our ball movement improved, he was able to hit the scoreboard. Probably for him, his work behind-the-scenes on and off the track, so his understanding of his role and then also the opponents he played on, were also reasons for his improvement. He did a lot of work in his preparation off the field that allowed him to play some strong, consistent footy.” - Heath Younie (forwards coach).
21. Dom Tyson
2 games; 13 disposals, 5.5 marks, 1.5 tackles, 1.5 clearances, 2 one percenters, 3 score involvements per game.
After a strong start to 2021, Dom Tyson’s season was derailed by injury.
The midfielder looked to be back to his best in pre-season, following a strong performance against St Kilda with 23 disposals and 3 goals against Hawthorn in the AAMI Community Series.
Using the pre-season to prove his form and fitness, Tyson was included in the Kangaroos’ side for the first two games of the season, his first senior appearances since Round 3, 2019.
After a handful of strong performances at VFL level including 28 disposals against Casey, the injury bug bit, leaving him to spend much of the second half of the year on the sidelines.
Tyson was delisted at the conclusion of the season.
Round 2 v Gold Coast
13 disposals, 5 marks, 3 clearances, 4 score involvements.
The coaches said:
“He had such a good pre-season. You can’t underestimate how far Dom came this year. He was able to see through the majority of the pre-season which put him in line to play the first couple of rounds of the year. Where he’s come from in the last couple of years to get him back to that AFL level is an outstanding effort from him. He’s been a real leader off the field, and he’s really guided not just the younger boys, but a lot of the older boys as well. We saw at the back end of the year before he hurt himself again, he was starting to get some good VFL form up. It’s a year he should be really proud of, to get himself back to the level where he was getting picked to play AFL level.” - Jordan Russell (midfield coach)
22. Todd Goldstein
22 games, 12 goals; 14.3 disposals, 29.6 hitouts, 3.6 marks, 1.9 tackles, 3.5 clearances, 3.9 one percenters, 3.8 score involvements per game.
There are three certainties in life … death, taxes and Todd Goldstein consistently being amongst North’s best players.
Entering his 15th pre-season ahead of the 2021 campaign, ‘Goldy’ yet again managed to play every game of the season, the fourth year in a row he’s completed such a task.
Still one of the premier rucks in the competition, and arguably getting better with age, Goldstein more often than not won the hitout count against his direct opponent, while also managing to be an effective influence around the ground.
Dropping below 20 hitouts just twice in the season, Goldstein’s ability to provide his midfield with first use of the football has been crucial to North’s success over the years, and his veteran influence helps provide a guiding hand for the young midfield group.
While Round 15 may have been his best performance of the season, Round 17 against West Coast was arguably his most special.
Not only did he break Aaron Sandilands’ all-time hitout record, thus cementing himself as one of the game’s great rucks, he popped up late in the fourth quarter to provide one of North’s moments of the season.
With under four minutes to go and North leading by four points, Goldstein flew for a strong pack mark in the goal square, putting the result almost beyond doubt as he converted for goal.
Always one to step up in the big moments, the impact of Todd Goldstein not just on North’s on-field performances, but also the off-field development, should not be underestimated.
Round 15 v Gold Coast
21 disposals, 12 contested possessions, 44 hitouts, 6 clearances, 9 score involvements.
The moment Todd Goldstein cemented his place in history, winning his 8503rd hitout to move one clear of Aaron Sandilands, and into first for all-time hitouts.
The fans said:
Big shout out for Todd Goldstein’s outstanding 2021 season. His ability to provide North’s midfielders with first use of the ball makes him one of the most dominant rucks in the AFL. Hoping Goldy can continue to dominate and end as a one-club champion at a time of his choosing. https://t.co/LgaK0cHWL7— Greg Banova (@gbanova) August 25, 2021
The coaches said:
“We’ve got a young midfield group barring ‘Cunners’ and ‘Goldy’. To have two elder statesmen providing feedback on the ground, and learnings and education off the field is pivotal to our younger players improving. ‘Goldy’ was a really crucial member in our rise in performance in that second half of the year.” - Jordan Russell (midfield coach).