There's something about Bailey Scott that makes him feel like part of the furniture at Arden Street. Whether it's his composure, his maturity, his name or his consistency, it can be easy to forget that Scott is still just 21 years of age with less than 50 games of senior football under his belt.

Few North Melbourne fans who witnessed his debut will soon forget it. In Round 1, 2019 he racked up 21 disposals and two goals to be the bright spark in a dire loss to Fremantle. He would only go on to play three more games that year before injury robbed him of his first campaign at AFL level.

Despite making his name as a flying wing/half-forward player, Scott has undertaken a new challenge in 2022. While it is a challenge that was borne out of necessity it's a challenge in which he is flourishing. He's been a near permanent fixture in North's back six this season and, as it stands, is putting together the most consistent season of his career.

While he's not necessarily played as a bona fide defender before at senior level before 2022, his ability to play as a pressure forward and even a tagger lends itself well to his new role. If anyone questions Scott's defensive application, just show them the highlights from his blanket performance on St Kilda's Bradley Hill from last season.

Scott has showcased defensive discipline in almost all areas of the ground across his young career. An attribute he says holds him in good stead in this new role.

"There's definitely experiences in those roles that I carry through into the role I'm playing now. Even coming from that high half-forward and midfield background in juniors started my education on where you want to be and where you don't want to be as a defender," Scott told North Media.

"It doesn't matter where you are on the ground, you don't want to let your opponents get to where they want to be, and that's no different playing in defence.

"You can take experiences from both sides of the game and combine them together to give you the best chance of keeping your opponent's impact on the game to a minimum. I've been really excited to take this role on because it's given me the chance to explore something new on the footy field and I've really embraced that.

"We hadn't planned any half-back stuff through the pre-season but at the start of the season there were a fair few injuries to a few of the defenders, due to losing those backs there was a bit of a void to fill. 

"I've been presented with a good opportunity to play down back and I've been happy to do what I can to fill that void. I'm just working hard to play my role."


Averaging 17.1 disposals, 4.4 marks and 3.6 intercepts per game - all career-highs - Scott is finding more of the ball than ever before. With a disposal efficiency of over 80 per cent his added ability to find the ball isn’t negatively impacting his ability to hit targets and find teammates.

However with no Ben McKay, Aaron Hall or Aiden Bonar to call on against Port Adelaide, this weekend could be the biggest challenge of Scott's early defensive career. 

While Port Adelaide's tall forward options of Todd Marshall, Mitch Georgiades and Jeremy Finlayson have been taking the headlines, their small forwards are still more than capable of winning games of football on their own.

Even without Orazio Fantasia the Power boast the likes of veteran stars Robbie Gray and Steven Motlop and young gun Connor Rozee in their forward line. Players who have over their careers got off the leash and proven themselves to be brutal talents.

After a month of difficult defeats Scott is under no illusions of how his side needs to perform.

"This is definitely an important game for us because we do need to turn our performance around from the last couple of weeks," he said.

"I think the main part of that is having everyone play their roles and having that fight and desire right until the end.

"As a group we need to fight all the way to the end, not just individually. If we do those two things then we'll put ourselves in a good position to put in a good performance."


Scott, much like Jack Ziebell and Aaron Hall before him, is making the transition from attack into defence look relatively simple. While he certainly has to be more accountable for his direct opponent than ever before Scott has in no way lost the flair that has made him such an exciting prospect since his draft night.

As he approaches the 50-game mark, this weekend will be just the second time Scott has played nine consecutive games in the one season. Competition for spots and some poorly-timed injuries have prevented him from finding the week in, week out consistency every player craves.

As with all players who play in their non-preferred position, and as with all young players, there's still room for Scott to improve his game.

He has his eye on both short-term gains and long-term success.

"Working with people like 'Hally' (Aaron Hall) and 'L-Mac' (Luke McDonald) has really made me feel comfortable. I've really been embraced and encouraged by the group so I can just be myself on the footy field," he said.

"Hopefully there's more improvement in my game that can come with opportunity, and hopefully there's plenty of opportunity ahead of me.

"That improvement also requires hard work and commitment, and that's something I'm willing to put in. Hopefully I can string together some games of footy and develop in those roles.

"If I do that then who knows where my footy can get to in the next few years."


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