North Melbourne has bolstered its defensive stocks heading into 2022, with young defender Kyron Hayden putting pen to paper on a 12-month contract extension.
Drafted with the 62nd selection in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, Hayden played three senior games in 2021, taking his overall tally to 12.
While a hamstring injury kept him sidelined for much of 2021, he’s impressed with his athletic style of defending when afforded the opportunity.
North Melbourne list manager Glenn Luff says he’s keen to see what Hayden can achieve next season.
“We’re really excited to have Kyron on board for another 12 months,” Luff told North Media.
“We’ve seen what he’s capable of when he gets a clean run at it, and we’re hopeful he can put his interrupted 2021 behind him and really crack on in the upcoming pre-season.
“We love the athleticism and competitiveness he brings to the side, and he’s shown the potential to make himself a key part of our back six.”
Hayden’s re-signing follows the recent contract extensions of fellow defenders Ben McKay, Josh Walker and Aaron Hall, as the club looks to cement its defensive unit heading into 2022.
Luff says the commitment shown by Hayden will see North retain some added versatility in its defence.
“He’s (Hayden) got the agility to defend smaller forwards, but he’s got the strength and power to hold his own against key position players in the contest.
“Kyron is still only 22. He’s a young player who might have struggled to get on the park a bit during his time at North, but he’s got loads of potential and a really high ceiling.
“Adding Kyron to that list of guys who have re-signed is only going to make us stronger moving into the future.”
Defensive coach John Blakey has echoed the sentiments of Luff, with the North premiership player saying he’s excited to continue overseeing Hayden’s development.
“He knows what it takes to be able to play at the level. He just needs to find a bit of continuity,” Blakey said.
“It was a frustrating year for Kyron, he was hoping to have a year where he strung together 15, 20 games.
“Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. He just needs to find a bit of continuity, and I’m sure we’ll see him develop over the coming years.”