Round 12 not only marked North Melbourne’s bye week, but also a turning point in the team’s development.
In the past five games the Kangaroos have beaten Gold Coast, West Coast and Carlton, and drawn against GWS.
It’s a stark contrast to a difficult start to the 2021 campaign.
In the first half of the season the Kangaroos were averaging 61.72 points per game in comparison to the opposition’s 106. But since the bye, North has improved to 78 points a game, keeping its opponents to 80.
David Noble puts the development down to one thing - ball movement.
“We’ve been working hard on roles and the game-plan behind-the-scenes and our players have been really diligent in their preparation,” Noble told The Mercury.
“We put some things in place before the bye, and since then they’ve really gone to work to study what we need to, and our training standards have continued to improve.
“We’ve really concentrated on how we want to move the ball and score, and how to restrict opposition scoring with how we defend.
“It sounds simple, but they have been a key focus for us for the whole year, and as we’ve understood more what we need to do we’ve been able to train those more often and put more of it into games.
“That’s the exciting part.”
Noble has praised the leadership group, Jack Ziebell, Jy Simpkin, Luke McDonald, Ben Cunnington, Robbie Tarrant and Kayne Turner, saying they have gone above and beyond in educating the younger cohort of players.
“Our leadership group needs a big shout-out, because all of those guys have learned new roles and new aspects of the game plan, and they’ve helped educate our players in that space,” he said.
“They’ve not only led internally, but they’ve led by their actions on the field.”
North will take on Geelong at Blundstone Arena on Saturday, in what will be the Cats’ first visit to the venue.
The Kangaroos will be without their Tasmanian-born young gun, Tarryn Thomas, due to concussion.
“He’s (Thomas) in good form so it is a shame he will miss, but it’s an opportunity to get someone else into the role he’s been playing,” Noble said.
“Will Phillips has been going really well, so he probably gets more midfield time, and Charlie Lazzaro is also a chance, so we’ve got some guys who can do that.
“It’s frustrating for Tarryn, but we understand the concussion protocols and we just need to fill that spot.”