North Melbourne shocked the football world on Monday by announcing Hugh Greenwood would pull on the royal blue and white stripes in 2022.
A 191cm contested bull, Greenwood will add an element of grit and hardness to North’s midfield, having ranked first in the AFL for tackles per game in 2021 with 8.6.
While initially contracted to Gold Coast for the 2022 season, he was delisted by the Suns as they looked to create some flexibility in their draft strategy, committing to redrafting the 29-year-old through the national draft.
A former college basketballer, he played for four years at the New Mexico Lobos before returning to Australia to chase his AFL dream.
Greenwood’s existing relationship with North senior coach David Noble was pivotal in getting him through the doors at Arden Street.
“In about 2013 I flew to New Mexico to meet [Greenwood] while he was still at college with the Lobos,” Noble told SEN. “Myself and Hamish Ogilvy had tracked him. Hamish met him in Tassie when he played in the All-Australian under 16s.”
“Then he jetted off to the States to chase his basketball dream, so we’d been in constant contact with him in that time, secured him at Adelaide, then I went to Brisbane and stayed in contact with him.
“It goes as far back as Hugh’s granddad, Peter Marquis, [who] played with my dad in Tassie at North Hobart.
“Peter played full back and my dad, John, played back pocket. My mum and dad and his grandparents were quite close mates. We’ve got quite a long history with Hugh.”
A weekend is a long time in football. Just days after posting his commitment to Gold Coast on Twitter, it was announced Greenwood would be moving to Victoria to link up with a side.
With the time period to sign delisted free agents finishing on Monday at 5pm, it was almost the definition of an eleventh-hour signing.
Noble says while he’s excited to have Greenwood on board, his decision to leave the Suns was by no means a simple one.
“He understood the concept of what Gold Coast were doing … he’s such a loyal person … It was certainly a tough call for [him] in the end,” Noble said.
“We spoke about where we were going, the direction we wanted to take, we spoke about life after footy. I think that’s where that intimate knowledge of knowing Hugh wanted to get into coaching post-playing, and being able to help him in that aspiration and direction [helps].
“He’s going to help us enormously with a bit of on-field leadership … he’s got versatility … and he and his family are going to be very welcome at our footy club.”
Greenwood now joins former Richmond ruck/forward Callum Coleman-Jones on North’s list, with the pair buying into the project that Noble and his coaching staff are building at the club.
After the club announced the acquisition of Coleman-Jones, ruck/forward Tristan Xerri announced his intentions to explore opportunities at other clubs.
No deal could be reached for Xerri, and Noble says he’s impressed with how he has continued to apply himself at Arden Street.
“We didn’t see ‘CJ’ coming in to be a replacement for Tristan at all, we need internal competition,” Noble said.
“To Tristan’s credit, since that deal didn’t go down he’s been into the club off his own bat probably three or four times a week. He looks in terrific condition, we’ve got a really strong relationship.
“Going forward we’re not sure how many years ‘Goldy’ has left … we’re really excited to see ‘X’ take up the challenge and the three of them (Coleman-Jones, Xerri and Goldstein) battle it out for a couple of spots.”