North Melbourne VFL coach David Loader says 2020 will provide a perfect opportunity for some emerging youngsters to take the next step in their development.
With a number of experienced heads departing the VFL list, the onus will be on youth next season.
“The younger group that have been with us for a couple of years now get the opportunity to show they’re good enough to play at this level,” Loader told North Media.
“There’s an opportunity for guys who have been middle-of-the-road players at state level to step up and become really good players in their own right.”
With players such as Cameron Zurhaar, Nick Larkey and Sam Durdin graduating to the AFL from the VFL last season, Loader is excited about the prospects of the next crop of youngsters coming through.
“We’re trying to align really well with the AFL boys and have a collaborative approach, trying to achieve everything we can in both teams,” he said.
“Rhyce (Shaw) wants us to be super-aligned. It assists our AFL boys, and our VFL guys as well, as they know exactly what they need to fit in.”
2020 will be North Melbourne’s third season as a standalone team in the VFL, and Loader believes there are plenty of lessons to be learned.
“Setting up a new team has been a really big learning curve for us,” he said.
“We’ll change it a little bit from what we’ve done in previous years, but hopefully we take some positives from what we’ve done already.”
Consistency in performance and on-field success has proven a challenge over the past two seasons, with the Roos finishing 10th in 2018, and 13th in 2019.
But Loader is confident that as players begin to develop, winning will take care of itself.
“Everyone likes to win. The players want to win, the coaches want to win,” he said.
“But that’s almost a by-product of what we’re trying to do, and that’s developing guys that we think can play AFL football.
“You want to create a winning culture, there’s no doubt about it, but our focus is on how many guys we can get from the state level to AFL football.”
Loader himself has taken on a bigger role so far in the pre-season, as a part of the recent coaching re-structure.
“There’s been a bit of change this year so it’s all hands on deck trying to improve the group,” he added.
“At VFL level, we now have our (AFL) development coaches coaching, and the part-time structure we had has changed.
“On game day they will now have AFL line coaches there, and we hope to get a spike out of that.”