With a new format and some new faces in action, it can be hard to analyse Friday night's AFLX performance, but VFL coach David Loader couldn't have been more pleased.
Loader took the reins alongside Brad Scott for the inaugural tournament, and says the opportunity to blood some new faces was invaluable.
“It was a great experience. We played a couple of boys who hadn’t been exposed to the level before, so it was terrific for those guys, and for the fans of North Melbourne to have a look at Gordon Narrier and Paul Ahern.
“I think they were OK, but the experience is going to do them the world of good.
“We’ll have a bit of a chat early in the week about how they went, but it was more about the experience.
“I think for Gordon Narrier, he hasn’t been exposed to a great ground like this in-front of a screaming crowd, but he said to us at half-time he couldn’t believe how loud it was out there, so that’s terrific experience for him.
“Paul Ahern was coming back from two years out of the game, so we weren’t expecting miracles early on. He got through unscathed, and that’s about all we can ask for.”
In addition to Narrier and Ahern, new recruit Billy Hartung donned the royal blue and white stripes for the first time.
Despite only featuring in North’s second match of the night, the former Hawk took little time adjusting to his new surroundings, collecting a game-high 13 disposals.
“It’s exciting for Billy. It’s a chance to refresh himself and show people how good he can be at this level," Loader said.
“I think he had 13 touches in 20 minutes of footy, so that was really pleasing for Billy and he looked like the longer the day went on, the better he was going.
“He’s going to bring something to our group that we’ve probably lacked a little in the past.”
Despite playing 32 games for North, Majak Daw looked like somewhat of a new player, featuring in defence after spending much his AFL career either in the ruck of as a forward.
“Majak’s a really exciting player, everyone knows how athletic he is, so the change of role for him tonight playing behind the ball was something new, but I thought he did some great stuff,” Loader said.
“His athletic prowess shone through a couple of times, so I look forward to what he can offer us in a different spot.
“It was a pretty tough challenge for him, but I thought on the occasions he had to make really good decisions, he did, so I thought it was pretty pleasing watching him play.”
AFLX co-captain Jamie Macmillan was also excited by his younger teammates, and believes they can be the players to take the club to the next level.
“The guys are going really well, and the ones I’m looking forward to are those 22, 23 and 24-year-old's who have been around the system for three, four and five years," Macmillan said.
“They’re ready to take that next step, and I think they’ll help us push forward this year which will be exciting.”
More of North’s young talent is expected to be on show this weekend, in the first JLT Community Series match against Melbourne on Saturday afternoon.