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VFL: Season Preview

A strong sense of optimism lingers around North Melbourne's inaugural VFL side.

North VFL Coach David Loader, mirroring a pre-season to it's AFL side, has accepted the challenges of introuding a brand new side, with an exciting mix of AFL players.

With a resilient leadership group in place, the boys in the royal blue and white are primed for a memorable debut season.

Today, North Media previews the Roos' prospects in 2018 ahead of the Round 2 clash against the Northern Blues.

The squad

View the full VFL squad

The key VFL-listed players

Michael Close (from Brisbane AFL): “Michael is big recruit for us coming off an AFL list. He’s struggled with some injuries over the last couple of years, so we’re looking forward to him being fit and healthy. He’ll play as a key forward or key back; the good thing is he can play at both ends of the ground.”

Nick Rippon (North Ballarat VFL): “Nick has some runs on the board at VFL level having won the J.J. Liston Trophy in 2015. He’s one of probably five or six guys we have on our VFL list that we think can play as an inside and outside midfielder.”

Nash Holmes (Essendon VFL): “Nash is someone that hasn’t had a lot of opportunity at VFL level at this stage, so hopefully he gets his chance to show everyone what he’s capable of. He’s another one of our VFL-listed midfielders.”

Chris Jansen (Central District): “Chris has been a really good young player in the SANFL. He’s a running midfielder who can also play inside the contest.”

Jordan Harper (Canberra): “Jordan has had a good couple of years in the NEAFL. We’re looking forward to seeing him play a different style of footy than what he’s used to. He’s also a running midfielder.” 

- Coach David Loader on VFL website. 

Leadership group

North’s six-man leadership group comprises of co-captains Chris Jansen and Michael Close, as well as Jordan Harper, Nick Rippon, Nash Holmes and experienced VFL veteran Steven Stroobants.

“I feel like our leadership group is working really well together to get our young group as good as we can be," Jansen told North Media.

“Myself and all the other leaders are working together well, especially with the on-field stuff.

"It’s pretty close between the entire leadership groupn we’re looking to build confidence in our own structures and not changing from that come game day.

“As a whole, we’ve got six guys in it and we all have different areas of the football department to take care of.”


View the full 2018 fixture

The big games 

Key fixtures for the Roos include two Saturday afternoon games against Box Hill on May 26 and Sandringham on June 2, which will be broadcast on Channel 7.

Based primarily at the Avalon Airport Oval facility, North faithful will have a host of clashes to look forward to including curtain-raisers against Richmond and Footscray at Etihad Stadium, and Geelong at GMHBA Stadium. 

Style of footy

Jansen placed an emphasis on an attack-minded approach and believes the VFL side will adopt the exciting brand of footy implemented by the AFL side.

“We’re hoping to play a high-pressure and exciting brand of footy," he said.

"We’ll look to turn the ball over as early as we can and score going the other way.

“When given the opportunity, we’re going to look to go forward as quick as possible and put opposition sides under the pump.

"We’ve got a very tall forward line with the AFL-listed guys we have at our disposal.”

Coming together

A sense of pride and comradery has been developed within the playing group as players earn their opportunity to don the club colours.

“For all of us guys coming into the club, there’s certainly that sense of pride and appreciation about wearing the blue and white stripes,” Jansen said. 

“It’s always going to be an honour to do that when we get the chance, but in particular, from the perspective of the AFL guys, going from playing with Werribee to now having our own standalone team.

“I think this will show with their passion on the field.”

The coaches

David Loader will lead a seven-man coaching panel, including Senior Assistant Coaches Ben Dyer and Gavin Brown, Backs Assistant Coach Jordan Doering, Midfield Assistant Coach Robbie Waters and Forwards Assistant Coach, Ben Davey.

Jansen has also taken up a Player Coach role with the club for the duration of the 2018 VFL season.

Round 2 match-up

North Melbourne vs. Northern Blues
Sunday, April 15
Avalon Airport Oval – 1.00pm

How to follow

For behind-the-scenes content and matchday updates, you can follow all the action on social media across our Twitter and Instagram handle, @NorthVFL.

Stay up-to-date by heading to our Facebook page for the latest news, views and videos.

Ticketing information

Entry to home games is free for North members upon presentation of their membership card. 

General entry prices are as follows: 
Adults — $10
Concession — $5
Children under-15 — Free entry