The North Melbourne Football Club has made several list changes as it looks to re-shape its team ahead of the 2021 season
Jamie Macmillan, Majak Daw, Jasper Pittard, Ben Jacobs, Paul Ahern, Mason Wood, Sam Durdin, Marley Williams, Joel Crocker, Lachie Hosie and Tom Murphy have been advised they will not be offered new contracts.
Macmillan, 28, played 167 games for the Kangaroos, after being selected with pick 37 in the 2009 National Draft.
“I want to thank the club for giving a skinny 18-year-old kid a shot at making it,” Macmillan said.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride over 11 years and this club holds a special place in my heart.
“While I’m disappointed it has come to an end at North, I understand the decisions are in the best interests of the club, and wish everyone involved nothing but success.”
Macmillan played in seven finals games with the Roos and was awarded life membership in 2019.
“Jamie has been a reliable defender for the club and has played an important role for us down back for the best part of the last decade,” North coach Rhyce Shaw said.
“His reliability and flexibility to play on talls and smalls was a real asset, but more than that, his leadership and team-first attitude was always his biggest strength and he will be missed.”
Macmillan’s season was cut short when he exited the club’s Queensland hub after Round 11 for the arrival of his first child.
Daw’s career with North ends after an incredible 11-year journey.
“It’s obviously pretty disappointing that I’m not going to be around going forward,” Daw told teammates and staff this morning.
“It’s [my career] had its highs and lows along the way. I played one final, and I think I played 54 games in 11 years, so it’s quite a humble career, but I’d just like to thank this footy club for giving me an opportunity to be the first African to play in the AFL. It’s something I will always hold close to my heart.
“I’ve made some really good mates at this place. I’ll miss the locker room banter … it just didn’t work out the way I wanted it to this year, there’s been challenges I’ve gone through.
“The last few years obviously haven’t been easy for me, and I can’t thank this footy club enough for what they’ve done for me.”
Initially taken in the 2009 rookie draft, he became the first Sudanese-born player to play in the AFL when he made his debut in Round 4, 2013.
“I don’t think we can underestimate the impact Majak’s had not only on our club, but the game in general since he entered the league,” Shaw said.
“When we look back at what he’s achieved and the battles he’s overcome to not only play football, but to give a voice to those in his community who are treated differently or unfairly, it’s just phenomenal.”
Daw overcame the biggest challenge of his life earlier this season, when he ran out for a memorable comeback game against Adelaide in Round 9, having fully recovered from severe hip and pelvis injuries, a hamstring injury and torn pectoral muscle.
“That feat was superhuman,” Shaw continued.
“How Majak was able to physically recover and mentally get himself back to playing elite level football will be the stuff of legend in the years to come. It’s one of the more remarkable things I’ve seen in my time.”
While Daw only managed 54 games, his legacy will reach far beyond player records and statistics.
“He’s been a trailblazer on and off the field,” Shaw said.
“What he’s done for young African people and his community, combined with what he’s done for those suffering mental health has been extraordinary.”
28-year-old midfielder, Jacobs, played 90 games with North and Port Adelaide after being selected with pick 16 in the 2010 National Draft.
In 2012, he requested a trade to the Kangaroos which didn’t eventuate, and was instead picked up by the club with pick 37 in the Draft later that year.
In 2018 Jacobs was widely regarded as one of the game’s best taggers, but was plagued by health issues and played his last game in Round 16 that season.
“Ben was someone opposition teams had to plan for, and I know that first-hand being at Sydney when he was taking scalp after scalp,” Shaw commented.
“Although he’s been out of the game for a while, he’s remained a great teammate and club person, which is a real credit to him.”
Jacobs said his issues stemmed from a “whiplash” incident on the field against Brisbane in 2018, and has dealt with severe face and neck pain, headaches, blocked ears and pressure in his head ever since.
"I had none of these symptoms before I hit my head (at Marvel Stadium), so since then it has been a combination of things,” Jacobs said in an interview in 2019.
"I have had a neck injury ... I have just had my head knocked on the ground ... whether that has flared up the jaw, the nerves in the head, the neck ... it is the perfect storm type of thing.”
Along with North’s medical team, Jacobs explored dozens of avenues and treatments to alleviate his symptoms according to GM Football, Brady Rawlings.
“We’ve left no stone unturned in the search for answers to Ben’s unique set of circumstances,” Rawlings said.
“It’s been a long and painstaking journey with an unfortunate premature ending to Ben’s football career, but our focus has always been on his long-term health and ensuring he could lead a normal life symptom free.
“While Ben still has a way to go before he’s free of the symptoms he’s endured, he’s definitely on the right track and we’ll continue to support him with his health and wellbeing as he is a beloved member of our club.”
Pittard played 32 games for North after arriving at the end of 2018.
The 29-year-old started his career at Port Adelaide and has a total of 159 games to his name.
“Jasper has been a talented defender highlighted by his All-Australian squad selection in 2016,” Shaw said.
Pittard was traded to North, despite being contracted to Port and crossed to Arden St with a point to prove.
“He worked really hard to turn his career around when he arrived, and managed to play every game for us in 2019 which was a great effort and real credit to his resilience and determination,” Shaw said.
“He was a valuable addition to the leadership group this season.”
Mason Wood played 65 games since he was selected with pick 41 in 2012.
An athletic forward from Geelong Falcons, Wood booted 76 goals across his seven year career.
“At his best, Mason was able to have a real impact on games with his ability to take strong marks, and his elite running and endurance allowing him to cover a lot of ground,” Shaw said.
The club thanks all the players for their professionalism.
“We wish all the players the very best with whatever the future holds for them whether it be in football, or another line of work,” Rawlings said.
“All of these guys have been fantastic contributors to our club and this time of year is extremely difficult for everyone.”