Having produced its second ever Rising Star winner last year, North Melbourne showcased another leading contender for the 2024 prize after Colby McKercher flaunted his class in Wednesday morning's 34-point match simulation win over reigning premier Collingwood.

The 2023 No.2 draft pick starred at half-back for the Kangaroos, playing alongside reigning Ron Evans Medallist Harry Sheezel and off-season signing Zac Fisher. McKercher racked up disposals and provided plenty of drive in a 15.12 (102) to 10.8 (68) victory at the AIA Centre.

The Kangaroos haven't won more than four games in a season since 2019 and haven't finished above 17th spot in that time, but Alastair Clarkson's men showed clear signs of growth across four 25-minute quarters in searing heat.

While Zane Duursma didn't feature due to a minor knee injury, North Melbourne's other Rising Star contender – 2022 pick No.4 George Wardlaw – only played the first half as planned before completing a running block with Fisher, who was on managed minutes after dealing with multiple pre-season hamstring setbacks. 


After booting 71 goals last year to earn his maiden All-Australian blazer, Nick Larkey feasted on quality supply. He booted three goals by half-time and finished with five goals in an early reminder of his standing as one of the competition's premier key forwards. 


Former top-five pick Dylan Stephens made an instant impact on the wing and looks set to make the most of a fresh start at Arden Street after moving from Sydney during last October's trade period. 

With Griffin Logue ruled out for most of 2024 and Aidan Corr battling injury over the summer, the Kangaroos took a decent look at new key defenders Toby Pink and Bigoa Nyuon at Olympic Park. Kallan Dawson also featured and is another option down back. 

Small forward Paul Curtis finished with three goals, including a long-range bomb as the Roos kicked away with five unanswered goals in the second quarter.


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Both clubs participated in a drill after the second and fourth quarters, returning to the middle of the field for a centre bounce.

North Melbourne set up as if defending a seven-point lead in the first scenario, while the Magpies began seven points ahead in the second.

The Roos were without several senior players including co-captain Luke McDonald (reconditioning), Bailey Scott (calf), Darcy Tucker and Hugh Greenwood, while the Magpies rested 10 senior players.


Young guns

Harry Sheezel and Colby McKercher dictated traffic from half-back and look set to have a big say in how North Melbourne performs in 2024. George Wardlaw played the first half and did what he did last year. Riley Hardeman was impressive in the second half. 

Injury watch

Jy Simpkin came from the ground in the second quarter with a finger concern but played out the game. Zac Fisher played managed minutes after recovering from pre-season hamstring setbacks. Brayden George didn't feature despite returning to full fitness, with the Kangaroos wanting to build his match fitness after a tough injury run. Charlie Comben was named in the squad but didn't play due to foot soreness. 


COLLINGWOOD              6.4     6.5      8.6      10.8     (68)
NORTH MELBOURNE     4.4     9.6     13.8     15.12     (102)    

McInnes 3, Johnson 3, Schultz, Lipinski, Hill, Macrae
North Melbourne: Larkey 5, Curtis 3, Stephenson 2, Drury, Hansen Jnr, Harvey, Stephens, Zurhaar


1. Patrick Lipinski, 2. Jordan De Goey, 3. Isaac Quaynor, 7. Josh Daicos, 8. Lachie Schultz, 9. John Noble, 12. Josh Carmichael, 14. Darcy Cameron, 15. Nathan Kreuger, 16. Ed Allan, 17. Billy Frampton, 18. Finlay Macrae, 19. Tew Jiath, 23. Bobby Hill, 24. Jakob Ryan, 26. Reef McInnes, 27. Jack Bytel, 29. Joe Richards, 31. Beau McCreery, 32. Will Hoskin-Elliott, 33. Lachie Sullivan, 35. Nick Daicos, 36. Harvey Harrison, 37. Oleg Markov, 40. Ash Johnson, 43. Charlie Dean, 44. Oscar Steene, 46. Mason Cox

Notable absentees: Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom, Jeremy Howe, Jack Crisp, Tom Mitchell, Brayden Maynard, Jamie Elliott, Dan McStay, Darcy Moore, Brody Mihocek, Nathan Murphy


2. Jaidyn Stephenson, 3. Harry Sheezel, 6. George Wardlaw, 9. Luke Davies-Uniacke, 10. Colby McKercher, 12. Jy Simpkin, 14. Liam Shiels, 15. Dylan Stephens, 16. Zac Fisher, 17. Riley Hardeman, 20. Nick Larkey, 21. Callum Coleman-Jones, 24. Tom Powell, 25. Paul Curtis, 27. Miller Bergman, 28. Bigoa Nyuon, 29. Will Phillips, 31. Josh Goater, 32. Toby Pink, 35. Charlie Lazzaro, 37. Cooper Harvey, 38. Tristan Xerri, 41. Blake Drury, 42. Kallan Dawson, 44. Cam Zurhaar, 46. Robert Hansen jnr

Notable absentees: Luke McDonald, Aidan Corr, Darcy Tucker, Hugh Greenwood, Griffin Logue, Bailey Scott, Tarryn Thomas, Curtis Taylor, Charlie Comben, Zane Duursma


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