The emergence of North Melbourne’s tall forwards was one of the biggest positives from a tough 2021, and in Friday morning's match simulation at Arden St the young group underlined that there's plenty of improvement still to come.
In a fast-paced hit-out, Nick Larkey proved why he has become one of the competition's most promising key forwards, Cam Zurhaar’s showed enough to suggest he can build on his 31 goals last season, while Charlie Comben and Jacob Edwards both looked sharp.
All four of those players are 23 or under, and key defender Aidan Corr says he's enjoying seeing their growth first-hand.
“Nick Larkey has come back in unbelievable shape. He’s a genuine key forward [who’s] getting really hard to play against at training,” Corr said.
“The other boys like Cam are moving well. So is Charlie Comben. Throw Callum Coleman-Jones in there as well … they’re really keeping you engaged. You can’t really drop off. You’re fully locked on.
“They’re doing their work, doing their craft. They’re working hard and they’re going to be very good players. I’m excited about it.”
It isn’t just the club’s young group of forwards that excite Corr, with the latest crop of first-year draftees quickly finding their feet at Arden Street.
Fans got their first real glimpse of the group in Friday’s match simulation, led by number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis.
“He’s super impressive, isn’t he?" Corr said.
"So explosive, he’s confident with the ball, he knows what he’s doing and knows the team structure already. Most of the young boys are the same.
“[I had] Jacko Archer telling me to push across when I was in the wrong spot which is awesome. They’re really picking up on it quickly and it’s so good to see.
“Most of the group is pretty young anyway, so they’ve slotted in well. It’s a fun place to be and it’s great.”
From a personal perspective, Corr’s main target in 2022 is to consistently get onto the park.
After playing the first two games of the season last year, his campaign was prematurely ended by a toe infection that kept him sidelined for months.
“I had a little jab in my toe, just a local (anaesthetic). It got a bit sore and then a bit of an infection got in there, and those things can get pretty scary and pretty dangerous.” he said.
“We took the cautious approach. There was no point in risking it and there was no point rushing it … I just got ready for this year.
“Obviously I had it tough last year and missed the bulk of the year. I’ve done a full pre-season which is nice … and I’m just ripping in now."