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Ziebell moving forward

Jack Ziebell's move into attack this season has not only given North Melbourne's forward line a harder, more competitive edge, it has also helped the Kangaroos captain spend significantly more time on the ground.

Where Ziebell had pinch-hit in attack in previous seasons, he has spent 75 per cent of his game time there in 2018.

North has committed to Ziebell's transition from midfielder to forward this year. Where he spent just 25 per cent of his time in attack last season, that figure has ballooned to 75 per cent this year.

The 27-year-old's impact as a forward has been much like his attack on a contest – equal parts fearless and fearsome, and impossible to ignore.

With 10 goals after nine rounds, Ziebell, 188cm, sits third on North's goalkicking table behind Coleman Medal leader Ben Brown (25) and Jarrad Waite (12).

He is also third at the club for marks inside 50 (13) and equal third for contested marks (11) – behind only Brown and Waite on both counts – while he and Shaun Atley jointly lead the Roos in goal assists (seven).

As unmissable as Ziebell's on-field impact has been, his increased game time has snuck up on many outside Arden St.

But Champion Data statistics shine a light on the substantial flow-on benefits Ziebell's drastically reduced midfield minutes have had.

After averaging 93 minutes game time in 2016 and 99 minutes last season, Ziebell has played 106 minutes a match this year.  

Previously, he was one of the most heavily-rotated players in the competition but that too has changed markedly.

In 2016, he was equal eighth for most rotations among the top 250 players for quarters played, averaging 2.4 a quarter, while in 2017 he was equal 10th with 2.3. This year, however, Ziebell has slid to equal 134th, averaging 1.8 rotations a quarter.

Where he averaged 9:49 sec on the ground in between rotations in 2016 (ranked ninth shortest) and 10:41 sec in 2017 (13th), that figure has climbed to 14:34 sec this year (92nd).

North coach Brad Scott was understandably bullish about Ziebell the forward after North's win over Greater Western Sydney last Saturday.

"He's really effective forward, we like him there, we like the competitiveness of our forward line when he's there," Scott said.

No doubt the Roos coach is also pleased his captain's new role allows him to lead from the front more often.

Ziebell's game time moving forward  

Minutes a game
2016    93
2017    99
2018    106 

Rotations a quarter
2016    2.4
2017    2.3
2018    1.8 

Average time on ground between rotations
2016    9:49 sec
2017    10:41 sec
2018    14:34 sec 

Time in position

                    Midfield                Forward
2016           69 per cent           30 per cent
2017           72 per cent           25 per cent
2018           25 per cent           75 per cent 

Statistics courtesy of Champion Data