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Mid-season: Defenders

After a 2017 season in which it conceded the third most points per game (102.9), North Melbourne has tightened the defensive screws in 2018.

In the process, the Roos have become the fourth stingiest side in the competition, conceding just 73.4 points per game.

With a mixture of wise, experienced heads partnered with emerging and returning stars, the Roos’ defence has been a big reason for its strong performances to date.

Defence coach Josh Drummond has assessed North’s senior defenders at the halfway point of the season.

“Scotty’s had a really strong first half of the year.

“He’s obviously a really experienced campaigner for us, and I think he’s returned to some of his best form, which is a credit to him after he wasn’t at his best last year.

“I think he’s really bought into the way we want to play this year.

“He’s a leader back there with Robbie Tarrant and Jamie Macmillan, and I think he’s really led the way by playing on a wide range of players and being really strong for us.” 

“Tazz has been super this year, I think he’s been a bit unheralded for the way he goes about it.

“He just goes about his job, he generally plays on the best players every week and I’d say he would just about be leading the game’s key defenders for goals against this season, so he’s been super in that regard.

“He’s really led our defence strongly which is what we’ve come to expect in the past few years.”

“Majak has added a different element to our backline this year, it’s been exciting.

“The number one thing for Maj is getting continuity in his body which he basically hasn’t had since he’s been here, so that’s been the number one thing that’s allowed him to make improvements this year.

“He has really gelled in defence, he’s obviously got some elite physical attributes, but the thing that’s been pleasantly surprising is his ability to pick up what’s required to play a defensive role.

“He knows when to defend hard one-on-one, when to drop-off his opponent to try and support, and that stuff has been really pleasing.

“He’s put a lot of work in, and fingers crossed he can just keep ticking along.”

“J-Mac has been really solid this year.

“He’s an important leader for us, and he’s had a really good balance in his game this year between his defensive work, being really strong in the contest, and his run and drive which we know he can do.

“He’s had a really strong year, and there’s still plenty of upside for him as a player.”

“He’s really important for us.

“He was leading the Syd Barker Medal last year before he got injured, so it’s been a real credit to him coming to play in Round 1 given he had pretty significant back surgery and he was a bit underdone coming into the season.

“The fact that he can come in, play on the best small every week and play his role, has been a credit to the work he did in the off-season because he was looking a fair bit off the pace early in the pre-season, but he was able to put the work in and get himself up and going.

“He’s a really valued member of our team.”

“It’s great having Wrighty back in the team, I think the boys got a massive lift seeing Wrighty come back, and he’s fitted in really well in the past month.

“It’s been a really frustrating few years for him and I’m sure he’s had his doubts along the journey, but like Marley, he’s put a heap of work in to get himself right.

“He’s stayed positive around the club, he’s a great character and it’s great seeing him back doing what he loves doing, so hopefully that can continue.”

“Clarkey has played the majority of the season, but lost his spot a couple of weeks ago.

“Building on from last year, he showed his ability to give us that great run and drive which he does really well with his reaction time and ability to read cues in the game.

“He’s really important and one of those high, modern day defenders.

“There’s still parts of his game we’ll continue to work on him with, but I think what he’s shown so far is that he’ll be a good player in the future.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs