After his move into defence Majak Daw now has a clear understanding of his role in a North Melbourne side which has exceeded expectation this season, but according to the 195cm utility, the club isn’t receiving the credit it deserves.
Daw has been in the competition since 2011 and, prior to this season, has played in almost every position on the ground - bar the back-six - without much success or luck with injury.
But in a bold move at the beginning of the year, North Melbourne coach Brad Scott showed faith in the 27-year-old and pushed him into defence where he has since thrived.
“I think I’ve caught some people by surprise of how well I’ve adapted to the position,” Daw said on Friday morning.
“I’m still learning, I’ve still got a lot of work to do in terms of playing on different match ups and learning when to come off [my opponent] and cover my teammates, that’s the part of my game that needs to evolve.
“I was excited to have the opportunity to make a position my own, have one focus and really look to gel with the other defenders: Scott Thompson, Robbie Tarrant and Jamie Macmillan.
“(Those guys) have been enormous in my development.”
Daw has played 37 of a possible 162 games due to horror runs with injury and inconsistent form, but he never lost self-belief and now calls himself a defender.
“I’m doing all the defensive stuff, training with the defenders, playing like a defender, and I suppose I don’t do much goalkicking anymore … so yes (I would call myself a defender now), Daw said.
“I’ve always had the attributes to play AFL footy, it’s just I’ve been inconsistent.
“Now I know what I need to do, I have a clear understanding of what I want and need to work on during the week. It’s been a linear progression, I’m learning each week, playing different teams, but I’m just really enjoying my footy.”
North Melbourne has played a much-improved brand of football this season and is 10th on the ladder with four wins and four losses, but Daw believes his side isn’t receiving the recognition it deserves, particularly considering Nathan Hrovat was scoffed at in February for suggesting the club aimed to play finals footy.
“There’s a lot of outside noise about us at times and people haven’t given us the credit that we deserve, but that’s footy, that’s life,” Daw said.
“I think the belief we’ve got amongst each other, we’re really enjoying our footy. Last week was disappointing, but to match it with Richmond for such a long time… they’re the benchmark and we weren’t too far off.
“Sometimes people give you the credit, sometimes they don’t.
“What we worry about here at the footy club is what we can do and what we can control.
“The rest is irrelevant.”
Daw and his teammates will depart for Hobart on Friday afternoon in preparation for their clash against GWS on Saturday.
An injury-plagued Giants have lost their last two games by an average losing margin of 43 points, while they are still missing stars such as Josh Kelly (groin), Toby Greene (foot), Brett Deledio (hamstring) and Phil Davis (concussion).