Versatility is important at AFL level and has often been the hallmark of elite sides throughout history, so it's little wonder North Melbourne’s development of its young players looks to be continuing this trend.
With the likes of Tarryn Thomas, Bailey Scott and Cam Zurhaar all spending time in both the midfield and forward lines, and Kayne Turner’s successful shift to a midfield tagging role, North’s coaching staff are giving all the players at the club the opportunity to thrive.
Jaidyn Stephenson arrived at North as an elite forward, but has been positively impacting contests from a variety of midfield and forward roles in the opening five rounds.
“In each of the roles we’ve had him in he can bring his strengths, whether that’s wing, inside midfield, inside/outside midfield, [or] whether it’s as a forward,” Noble told North Media.
“He’s one that does handle moving from position to position in a game … I think 'Stevo' has enough experience now to know when he moves to a role, he just needs to bring his weapons to that role.
“His ability to connect and bring others into the game is probably undervalued … we can use him as a strike forward, but we can also use him as a key part of our midfield, [and] that’s great for us.”
At the elite level, players must be held to a certain standard of training, and at North it is no different.
While it’s often easy for fans to see the standards set by players during games, those standards cannot afford to slip behind closed doors.
Noble says the way his young players have adapted to the week-in, week-out intensity of the AFL has been pleasing.
“There’s a standard and demand not only in games, but training,” he said.
“I think if you get that right in your training aspect then you bring that and deliver that on game day. That’s the balance with the current game.
“You move more into a maintenance program through the year from your training, but we still need to train hard and bring that same intensity and that same competitiveness to every game.”
After being hurt by injuries at this early stage of the season, North is expected to welcome back a number of key players in the coming weeks.
Cam Zurhaar and Luke Davies-Uniacke are expected to return against Fremantle, Trent Dumont is almost ready to suit up at VFL level, Aidan Corr is back on the training track following a toe infection and Charlie Lazzaro is fighting to prove his fitness for this weekend’s fixture.
“We’re expecting both of those guys (Zurhaar and Davies-Uniacke) to get through [training] … [and] we’re expecting Charlie (Lazzaro) to train today, so we’ll make an assessment on where he is after training” Noble said.
“Corr started a bit of running last week, we’ve tried to move forward this week … it may just be a bit of loading, [but] I think that’s where we’re sort of at.
“Trent’s (Dumont) probably in VFL. We’ve got a VFL game next Thursday, so it was a battle between whether he plays this week or next week with a five-day break. We’ll probably err on doing a bit more training and then starting next week.”