George Wardlaw's exciting introduction to senior football has surprised no one at North Melbourne, interim senior coach Brett Ratten says.
The No.4 pick in last year's AFL draft, Wardlaw has averaged 15 disposals across his first three games and has won the second-most clearances by a debutant after three games since 1999, earning praise from commentators including Melbourne champion Garry Lyon.
"He hasn't surprised us," Ratten said at Wednesday's press conference at Arden St.
"He doesn't need anybody to get the footy to him. He's the one that goes out and gets it.
"What George does really well is he gets a man. So if he doesn't win the ball, he's a very good tackler as well."
While fellow 2022 draftee Harry Sheezel made an instant impact with a Round 1 debut, Wardlaw had to wait until Round 10 to earn his Shinboner number against the Swans.
"We had to be very careful with George in the early part of the year," Ratten said.
"His body wasn't ready to play. We had to make sure he could get some continuity in his performance.
"He's still learning. There's aspects of his game he's still working really hard at. We need to round him off to become the player he wants to be, but he's taking some really good steps into his introduction to AFL footy.
"I think he feels he belongs here (at North Melbourne) and he's waited for this opportunity."
Ratten has taken the reins for the past three games after senior coach Alastair Clarkson stepped down to prioritise his mental health, guiding the Roos to the brink of victory against Sydney in Round 10 and against Essendon last weekend.
While welcoming the improved performances, Ratten said the club's challenge is to convert the form into results, starting against the GWS Giants in Hobart on Sunday.
"The reality is we've been competitive and we like the performances [we've seen in recent weeks], but we haven't won, and that's what we're striving for." Ratten said.
"We like the way we're trending but we'd like the four points as well.
The Roos' growing confidence is the direct result of the work begun under Clarkson, Ratten said.
"What we've seen is some of the work we've done when Al was here actually starting to transfer over," Ratten said.
"Sometimes you work on things and they take a week, they take a month, sometimes they take a year.
"If Al was here, this would be the same. We're getting the benefits of it now."