North Melbourne veteran Liam Shiels will play on for a 16th AFL season after signing a one-year contract extension. 

Joining him in signing on for next season are Kallan Dawson, Blake Drury and Hamish Free, who have also agreed to new one-year deals to remain at Arden Street until at least the end of 2024. 

A triple-premiership player with Hawthorn, Shiels briefly called time on his playing career at the end of the 2022 season before reuniting with long-time coach Alastair Clarkson at North Melbourne during last pre-season’s supplemental selection period.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 23: Liam Shiels of the Kangaroos in action during the 2023 AFL Round 19 match between the St Kilda Saints and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium on July 23, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos)

The 32-year-old played 16 games in 2023, offering a wealth of experience and leadership to the Roos’ emerging midfield.

North Melbourne head of football talent Brady Rawlings said Shiels had been a welcome addition to the Roos this season and the club were excited to see him go round again in 2024. 

“We are thrilled to retain the services of a player and person of Liam’s calibre for another season,” he said.

“Liam has had a significant impact on the playing group in his short time at the club. His leadership qualities, ability to influence, and his overall experience will no doubt be even more valuable next season following the retirements of Jack Ziebell and Ben Cunnington.”

Dawson has played five senior games since he joined the Roos as a mid-season recruit from Williamstown in the VFL in 2022, including the side’s Round 24 win over Gold Coast. 

The 25-year-old was solid in defence for the Roos’ VFL side throughout 2023, averaging 15 disposals and 5.5 marks across 18 games. 

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Kallan Dawson�of the Kangaroos looks to pass the ball during the 2023 VFL round 22 match between Richmond and North Melbourne at Swinburne Centre on August 20, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Josh Chadwick/AFL Photos)

Drury featured in four games at AFL level during his debut season after being selected with pick No.1 in 2022 AFL Rookie Draft from the Oakleigh Chargers. 

Free is yet to make his AFL debut after being picked up alongside Drury in last year’s Rookie Draft, but showed promise as another ruck option for the Roos across eight games in the reserves before his maiden campaign was cut short a shoulder injury. 

The 25-year-old was brought over from South Fremantle in the WAFL, where he notched up 29 senior games in two seasons as a combative ruckman. 


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Rawlings said the club looked forward to seeing what Dawson, Drury and Free could achieve next season. 

“We are equally excited to have Kallan, Blake and Hamish on board for 2024 to see what they can do with another AFL pre-season under their belt,” he said. 

“Blake offers some versatility being used at both ends of the ground this year, and Kallan (defence) and Hamish (ruck) provide more tall options for us.

“All three players have impressed with their willingness to work hard and improve, and we know they will be eager to make the most of their opportunities next season.”


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