North Melbourne has been without its defensive general in 2021. For the whole season Robbie Tarrant has been absent from North’s back six, with groin and kidney issues preventing him from taking his place in the spine of the defence.
Fans have been eagerly anticipating his return into the side, waiting with bated breath for his fitness to be declared and for him to return to North’s 22, holding down his place in defence once more.
The wait is over though, as Tarrant is set to make his first appearance in royal blue and white since September of last year.
With the VFL being postponed until further notice there were worries Tarrant would be unable to find the match fitness he so desperately craved, but David Noble says the club used some creative solutions to ensure his return to the side.
“We had a circuit we put him through for 40-odd minutes … probably we got as much out of it than what we would’ve from the VFL … if not a bit more,” Noble said.
“He won’t be being limited in his game time … his loading is back up to the level we would expect, so we’re comfortable to put him back in.
“He’ll be picked. He’ll be playing which is great for our club.”
With so much quality and experience at his disposal, Tarrant hasn’t needed to be on the park to have a positive impact on North’s crop of defenders.
The advice and direction he has given his defensive counterparts has been a welcome supplement to fast-track their improvement in the back half of the ground.
Noble says the contributions Tarrant has been making to the club even while unavailable to play speaks volumes about his leadership ability.
“He’s been a really strong contributor for us in our leadership group. Robbie’s been doing a lot of work for us in the background with our younger guys,” Noble said.
“He’s been helping Ben (McKay) a lot … he’s been able to offer his advice even with guys like Josh (Walker)m and even guys like Jack (Ziebell) playing a new role down there in defence.
“He’s been really helpful in that mentoring aspect.”
The sore and injured bodies are starting to return for North, with Jaidyn Stephenson also expected to put his hand up for selection this week.
Noble says Tarrant’s return to the side not only boosts North’s defensive stocks, but also gives the side more options in the front half of the ground.
“It’s another mature body in that back end for us, it just gives us flexibility,” Noble said.
“Do we play with three talls? Does Josh (Walker) come forward? It just allows us a few more options from our game perspective.”