It’s the news many North fans have been waiting to hear. Speedster Shaun Atley is aiming to spend more time further up the field this year to complement his position across half-back.

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The 22-year-old has spent the majority of his pre-season campaign training with the midfield group and is hopeful of featuring in the middle throughout the NAB Challenge.

Atley said he is excited by the prospect, but understands there is plenty of work still to do.

“I haven’t played too much (on the) wing but I’m looking forward to the challenge of a new sort of role and getting up the field a bit more,” Atley told

Used predominantly across half-back since joining the club at the end of 2010, Atley spent more time on the wing last year, accumulating 70 per cent of his disposals in the midfield – an increase of six per cent from 2013.

But in order to make the transition further up the ground, the 86-gamer said improving his aerobic capacity continues to be a priority.

“Fitness is a big one (and) being able to run out games,” he said.

“When you look at ‘Gibbo’ (Sam Gibson) and ‘Basty’ (Ryan Bastinac) and blokes who play on the wing, they can play all day so you’ve got to be able to have that engine.

“The way the other wingers spread from a stoppage and spread from the middle of the ground is unbelievable, so that’s the number one thing I take out of training.”

Atley has added 3kg of muscle mass this pre-season to help him compete in the midfield but doesn’t want it to hinder his running ability.

“I’m up to 87kg now so that’s another challenge, being able to run while still putting on weight,” he said.

The number 18 has all the attributes required to develop into an outside midfielder, often showcasing his pace and ability to run and carry the ball.

Now in his fifth season at Arden Street, Atley abides by a simple philosophy – one that has helped him not miss a game for North since round 24, 2011.

“I hate missing a session, even if it’s training or games, or stuff like that,” he said.

“That’s what I try and do, is just getting out there for every session. I think it holds you in good stead because it gives you confidence to know that you can back it up.”

Atley said he has gained added motivation going into the season courtesy of veteran Brent Harvey – the oldest player on the Roos’ list – who is nearly 14 years his senior.

“You look at ‘Boomer’ and he hates missing a session,” he said.

“You rarely see him on the sidelines or anything like that. So if someone like that gets through every session then ... I should be able to do most of the sessions.”