With injuries impacting the availability and fluidity of North Melbourne’s list this season, one constant has been competition for spots amongst the club’s talls.
With Todd Goldstein and Tom Campbell effectively executing their roles in the AFL side, Tristan Xerri is being forced to bide his time at VFL level, but he’s holding the two selected rucks accountable with his performances.
With his 35 disposals, 30 contested possessions and 10 marks playing a crucial role in North’s VFL victory over Essendon last week, Xerri says he’s up for the challenge of breaking into the senior side.
“It’s good that I’m stringing along a couple of consistent games of footy, it’s something I’ve been looking to do for a couple of years now,” he told North Media.
“I just have to keep putting the pressure on … that’s what you want at a footy club, competition for spots.
“’Goldy’ (Todd Goldstein) is a premier ruckman of the competition, an All-Australian, and ‘TC’ (Tom Campbell) [has] been in my situation before.
“[Campbell] played a number of consistent years in the VFL so it’s good he’s getting a good run of it in the AFL and performing.”
After being drafted in 2017, Xerri has improved steadily during his time on North’s list, culminating in four senior games across the 2020 season.
Forming a dynamic one-two punch in the ruck with Campbell in the VFL for much of his time at the club, Xerri has shouldered the primary ruck duties so far this season.
He says thriving in that main ruck role is allowing him to find the football more than he ever did playing forward.
“This is my fourth year now so I’ve been around a while, especially in the VFL … obviously that experience helps,” Xerri said.
“In previous years I spent a lot more time up forward, whereas this year has primarily been as the main ruck, so there’s a bit more time around the ball.
“The first few rounds my body [had] to adjust … but [I’m] finding the footy this year.”
While Xerri’s performances in the VFL this season have been staggeringly good, North has struggled at times due to key players missing games through injury.
With the likes of Tyler Roos, Ben Speight and Josh Clayton all spending time on the sidelines, North has blooded a number of young players this season, filling out the side development players and NAB League stars.
Xerri says now that the bulk of those key players are back fit, he’s looking forward to helping turn the season around.
“We haven’t had the best run with injury and whatnot in the first few rounds, but we got a few boys back on the weekend and we got the win,” he added.
“I’m sure the results will come in the second half of the year.”