Majak Daw has revealed he played through a foot injury for much of the season, and says without North's expert medical staff, he would never have been able to enjoy a breakout season.
Speaking on North Media's "In Review" podcast, the 27-year-old says he only missed two games since coming into the side in Round 3, but things could have been much worse had it not been for the careful management the club put in place of him.
"I have to get surgery on Saturday," Daw said.
"I have a fracture in one of the bones in my foot, so I've just got to get that fixed up."
"I've been carrying this injury throughout the year, but the medical staff have done an amazing job managing me throughout the year.
"I really want to get it right now so I don¹t have an interrupted season next year."
Daw's foot was stomped on in the Round 5 match against Port Adelaide and he was forced to miss the following week versus Sydney at the SCG and then Round 10 game against Fremantle in Perth.
Daw says ongoing treatment and care allowed him to play 18 games this season; his highest tally in a single year. His previous best being nine total games in 2016.
"The coaches were extremely happy with how I went this year," Daw said.
"Even though I couldn¹t predict the year, playing 18 games and playing good footy after all these years.
They were just encouraging me to do the things I did last off-season and continue on with that form next year."
Rated an 'elite' defender by Champion Data, Daw was fifth in average contested marks across the competition but attributes his remarkable rise to those he plays with in the backline.
"I've got thank my teammates like Scott Thompson, Robbie Tarrant, Jamie Macmillan and Josh Drummond (Defence coach)," he added.
"They just really simplified my role for me so I could just go out and execute."
Listen to Majak Daw's 'In Review' here: