The AFL is back, well for the pre-season anyway.
Our Marsh Community Series kicks off against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night and will be sure to whet the appetite of North Melbourne fans all over the country.
Fans are full of optimism going into the 2020 season, with a raft of coaching changes and list additions allowing providing plenty of excitement.
Although round one is still a few weeks away, the pre-season can offer great insight into how teams are shaping up for the new season, so here are a few things to look out for against the Dogs.
One of the most exciting parts of a new season is seeing the latest crop of draftees for the first time. Last season Tarryn Thomas and Bailey Scott showcased their potential to become future stars, joining the likes of Luke Davies-Uniacke, Cameron Zurhaar, Jy Simpkin and Nick Larkey on North’s list of young talent.
This year, draftee Jack Mahony and emerging ruck Tristan Xerri get their chance in the first game, while Charlie Comben is waiting in the wings for coming weeks.
Lion-turned-Roo Josh Walker is sure to play a key role in defence, while former Giant Aiden Bonar will provide some grunt through the midfield.
A new look coaching panel...
Rhyce Shaw was deservedly named as full-time senior coach after a successful period as the interim boss last season.
Before pre-season started he took to reshaping the coaching staff, packing it with new faces. He brought in Jade Rawlings (senior assistant/midfield), Jared Rivers (backline), Leigh Adams and Heath Scotland (development) while Gavin Brown (head of development) and Brendan Whitecross (forward-line) have taken on new roles inside the football department.
The new-look coaching group has all brought into the club’s Shinboner culture and will take the lead of the Roos' emerging crop.
A tough, uncompromising brand is the pillar of North's setup, with the first test coming on Friday night.
Larkey's chance to shine...
With Ben Brown sidelined with a calf injury, Nick Larkey will be the key target in the Roos' forward half.
Larkey booted 26 goals in 17 games last year, including two bags of five, and will look to continue where he left off after a strong pre-season campaign.
While key leaders Jack Ziebell, Shaun Higgins and Robbie Tarrant are among a group of stars set to miss, Majak Daw will no doubt receive a great reception upon his return to AFL.
Daw played four VFL games last year, but is set to hold down a key post in the back half against the Bulldogs.