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.
37. Kyron Hayden
3 games; 7 disposals, 2.7 marks, 2 tackles, 1.3 score involvements, 3.7 intercepts per game.
After threatening to consistently break into North’s 22 in early 2020, injuries kept Kyron Hayden out of the side in the second half of the year, and unfortunately it was a similar story in 2021.
After taking part in Rounds 3, 4 and 5, a hamstring injury kept him sidelined for 11 weeks, and while he was named in the side to take on the Bulldogs in Round 16, he was a late omission from the side.
While he was fit and in the senior team though, Hayden once again impressed with his athletic style of defending, taking the fight to the likes of Patrick Dangerfield and Marcus Bontempelli when called upon.
After returning to fitness, he started to find some form at VFL level, including a mature and classy performance against Port Melbourne in Round 16.
When afforded the opportunity at AFL level, North’s number 37 has proved he has all the physical attributes to leave his mark on the side, and the young defender just needs a clean run of consistent games to see him further his development.
Round 4 v Adelaide
9 disposals, 2 marks, 2 tackles, 2 score involvements, 198 metres gained, 6 intercepts.
The coaches said:
“It was a frustrating year for Kyron, he was hoping to have a year where he strung together 15, 20 games, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case because his season kept getting interrupted. He’ll be frustrated, but he knows he has what it takes to be able to play at the level. He just needs to find a bit of continuity, and I’m sure we’ll see him develop over the coming years.” - John Blakey (defensive coach).
38. Tristan Xerri
8 games, 1 goal; 7.5 disposals, 7.4 hitouts, 1.8 marks, 2.1 tackles, 2.5 one percenters, 2.1 score involvements per game.
With Tom Campbell and Todd Goldstein the preferred ruck pairing at the beginning of the season, Tristan Xerri was forced to prove his mettle at VFL level, and prove his mettle he did.
Playing primarily as a ruck in the reserves, Xerri was consistently amongst North’s best players early in the year, dominating opponents with both his tap work and his clearance game.
On a difficult day against Southport, ‘X’ stood tall to finish with 26 disposals and 21 hitouts, and two weeks later in the victory over Essendon he dominated with 36 disposals, 27 hitouts and 6 tackles.
His strong vein of form eventually proved too much to ignore, playing his first senior game of the year in the Round 13 draw with GWS, going on to play eight consecutive senior games, the most of his young career.
Playing more of a forward role in the senior side, Xerri showed signs of his improving forward play, but he consistently looked his best when afforded opportunities in the ruck.
With Todd Goldstein showing no signs of slowing down, that forward craft will need to improve even more as he continues to develop.
With the improvement and application Xerri has shown over his North career thus far, another step up in 2022 is far from beyond the realms of possibility.
Round 15 v Gold Coast
11 disposals, 7 hitouts, 2 tackles, 3 clearances, 4 one percenters, 3 score involvements.
A boyhood North Melbourne fan, Tristan Xerri was forced to wait to participate for his first win at AFL level, with much of his early development coming in the VFL.
He joined in the chorus for the first time at senior level after the Round 15 victory over Gold Coast, singing the song loud and proud.
The fans said:
The coaches said:
It was great to see Tristan have a good stint at AFL level, and we were happy with what we saw when ‘Goldy’ was forward or on the bench. For him it’s all about understanding the patterns and how to consistently put himself in contests as a key forward while still maintaining that good ruck work. - Heath Younie (forward coach).
39. Flynn Perez
After suffering an ACL rupture in his draft year, Flynn Perez advanced his recovery to the point where he managed to play two senior games in the 2020 season.
A smart footballer with an impressive kick on both feet, he’s shown the hallmarks of being able to lock down a place in North Melbourne’s back six, and he attacked his first proper pre-season with new vigour as he looked to press his case.
Unfortunately though, he experienced every footballers worst nightmare, suffering a recurrence of the ACL rupture that had already kept him sidelined for so long.
While he couldn’t pull on the royal blue and white stripes in 2021, he’s kept himself engaged with the group and spent time with Aaron Hall as he looks to improve his understanding of the game.
Every player deals with the roadblocks of long term injuries differently, and Perez delved into the mentality of another comeback in an interview with North Media, which you can see here
Aiming for almost a full pre-season heading into 2022, the biggest hope for North’s number 39 is a clean, injury free run to truly showcase his talents.
The recovery from an ACL rupture is filled with targets and milestones, but there is none bigger than the first run post-surgery.
Flynn Perez reached this milestone on the Alter-G treadmill, with all his teammates there to support him as he reached this landmark.
The fans said:
Ok @NMFCOfficial friends - whose the one player injured atm you’d love to see get back and play this year. Mines Flynn Perez. Good skills, quick , can play half back or wing and a good size! Exciting prospect going forward!— Michael (@M_P_C87) April 11, 2021
The coaches said:
“Flynn has a great energy about him. He was obviously shattered after hurting his knee for a second time, but his ability to stay invested, to launch himself back into his rehab, to come up and sit through tapes with other players and learn the game with players by watching their tapes. He’s also been able to support those players and help them improve their own games, and that’s something I really, really enjoyed about him this year.” - John Blakey (defensive coach).