In the world of AFL football there’s nothing that can quite compare to a well-executed tackle.
The clash of the bodies, the thud of players hitting the deck, the crowd standing in unison to yell ‘ball’ as if one voice.
Those players who tackle and tackle and tackle without offering their opponents any respite often become fan favourites regardless of whose colours they pull on.
Daniel Harris certainly fits that bill, with the former North Melbourne on-baller vividly remembered by fans for his bullish, contested style of football, finishing in the top ten players across the competition in tackles from 2006 to 2008.
After 149 games in royal blue and white, Harris moved to Gold Coast for the 2011 season, adding 11 more games to his tally, before retiring due to ongoing groin issues.
Selected by North with the 14th pick in the 2000 NAB AFL Draft, Harris says Arden Street was one of the potential destinations furthest from his mind on draft night.
“I played with the [Bendigo] Pioneers for three years … and after that did the draft camp and spoke to most of the clubs,” Harris told SEN.
“One club I didn’t actually speak to was North Melbourne, so it’s funny how it all works out. I [also] didn’t speak to St Kilda because they had picks one and two and took (Nick) Riewoldt and (Justin) Koschitzke, and I didn’t speak to Collingwood because they had pick three with (Alan) Didak.
“As I was walking by the beep test there was Denis Pagan and a few of the guys. Really casually they called me over to introduce themselves. When I walked away I thought it was nice to meet them, but I wasn’t going to North Melbourne.
“It was a really good surprise when my name was called out on the night … it was pretty daunting to be honest, to go into the team that was arguably the team of the nineties and was so successful.
“I was overwhelmed, but I was rapt.”
While the world of physical testing has evolved since Harris’ early days, a strong performance at the draft combine can still see a young player’s name shoot up the draft board.
Some of the tests and metrics players are judged on may have changed, but no matter how much the game evolves, aerobic capacity is a cornerstone of football.
Scrapped in 2017, the beep test was used as a key indicator for aerobic fitness, with former North Melbourne and Hawthorn forward Billy Hartung holding the all-time combine record with a score of 16.6.
Harris says running was by no means his strongest attribute heading into the draft.
“I wasn’t aerobically gifted … I got 12.5 which is horrendous. My son who’s 13 could beat that at the moment,” Harris said.
“It was quite funny because there was another guy there by the name of Christ Hall who went to Port Adelaide. We didn’t know each other before the camp but we struck up a good relationship over those couple of days.
“We ended up running next to each other [and] we basically made a pact to pull out together so we didn’t look as bad, so we both pulled out at 12.5.”
As Harris and many players before and after have proved though, aerobic ability isn’t the key to success at the highest level.