North Melbourne got its first look at mid-season draftee Jacob Edwards on Sunday, with the ruck/forward taking part in a VFL practice match with Carlton and Box Hill over the bye weekend.
Teaming up with Carlton to take on the Hawks, North had 11 AFL-listed players run through the clash, with the likes of Jed Anderson and Jared Polec gaining fitness ahead of potential AFL recalls.
The ‘Kanga-Blues’ ran out as 65-point winners on the day, with Leigh Adams saying Edwards was impressive in his first game of senior football.
“Jacob played about 50 per cent of the game, he looked OK and did some nice things. He’s very raw but he didn’t look out of place,” Adams told North Media.
“He’s got a good footy brain on him and with a bit more conditioning and strength behind him he looks like he could be a good player.
“We exclusively played him forward this week just to keep him out of the centre bounces. It’s the first time he’s played against men, so we wanted to let him find his feet a little bit more as a forward.
“He did some forward 50 rucking, but he predominantly played as a tall forward.”
Anderson continued his comeback from the ankle injury suffered in Round 3 against the Bulldogs, with the gun midfielder increasing his game time from his return game against Footscray.
Kicking a goal in the contest, Adams says the Roos’ number three looks ready to put his hand up for a senior recall against Essendon this weekend.
“It was always the plan for him to play a half against Footscray in his first game back and ramp him up to a full game this week in the hope he can be available for AFL selection going into the Essendon game,” he said.
“He got through no worries and looked like he was moving really well across the ground … he looked really good going through the midfield.
“There’s no injury concerns for him, so he’ll be right to put his hand up for senior level this week.”
Jared Polec continues to exert some internal selection pressure on North’s wing players, with the classy left-footer also putting his hand up for AFL football.
Plagued by a hamstring issue for much of 2021, the hitout was Polec’s third since his return against Werribee, and Adams says he’s getting better every week.
“‘Polly’ seems to be running some good patterns at the moment and was getting involved both offensively and defensively,” he said.
“He played on the wing pretty much all day. He had some pretty good involvements throughout the day and he looks like he’s starting to cover the ground pretty well.
“I’m not sure what they’ll do since our wingers are obviously going pretty well at the moment, but he’s definitely putting his hand up.”
Phoenix Spicer returned from his own hamstring injury in the scratch match, and didn’t look out of place amongst a strong field of AFL listed players.
Adams says Spicer’s pace proved crucial throughout the contest, and he should increase his time on ground in the near future.
“He (Spicer) played about 65 per cent of the game as we looked to just manage him a little bit, but Spice played well,” he said.
“He really showed some pace, did some nice things with the ball in hand and it’s probably actually one of the better games I’ve seen him play in terms of his movement.
“He seemed to be not hampered by that hamstring at all.”
After being the unused medical substitute in last week’s AFL clash with the Western Bulldogs, Eddie Ford returned to VFL level and continued his hot vein of form.
Whilst not impacting the scoreboard, Adams says Ford’s ability to play as an undersized tall forward is developing exceptionally.
“He (Ford) presented pretty well at the footy and made a really good contest. It was a pretty small forward line so he played tall which was good for him,” he said.
“He used the ball pretty well and really just continued on how he’s been tracking at VFL level and continued to set that benchmark standard he’s been playing at lately.
“He didn’t hit the scoreboard this week but he’s been pretty consistent over the last five to six weeks and he was good again.”
Will Walker also returned for the clash as he looks to put thumb and calf problems behind him for the remainder of the season.
The classy midfield/forward imposed himself on the contest, as he finished the clash with three goals.
“It was his first game back and played half forward or midfield for the game. He played well and made the most of his opportunities,” Adams said.