North had a tumultuous 2021 season, winning just four games throughout the year to sit squarely on the bottom of the ladder as the season drew to a close.
The Kangaroos showed glimpses throughout an otherwise dire season, and though few had expectations of North rising up the ladder after 2020, to lose the first opening eight matches of the season - and the first four by an average of 70 points - was a disappointing effort.
In: Callum Coleman-Jones, Hugh Greenwood, Jason Horne-Francis, Josh Goater, Paul Curtis, Miller Bergman, Jackson Archer
Out: Taylor Garner, Connor Menadue, Dom Tyson, Will Walker, Robbie Tarrant, Shaun Atley, Tom Campbell, Trent Dumont, Charlie Ham
Disposal Efficiency - 5th
Centre Clearances - 5th
Rebound 50s - 6th
Clearances - 16th
Contested Possessions - 18th
Clangers - 17th
Star player: Jy Simpkin
Simpkin was a bright light in an otherwise dark 2021 for the Kangaroos. Playing all 22 games throughout the year, the young midfielder took his game to the next level, averaging 26.9 disposals and 5.2 clearances per game, awarded a maiden best and fairest for his efforts around the ball.
Often stationed on the wing throughout 2021, Simpkin excelled in the latter half of the year as North finally seemed to find their groove, with the co-captain often leading from the front.
With plenty of room for development within the Kangaroos midfield, Simpkin should only get better with a little bit of added support from his young teammates, potentially taking his game to the elite level in 2022.
One to watch: Jason Horne-Francis
The number one draft pick often comes with some fanfare, but North supporters have plenty to be excited about when it comes to Horne-Francis. The midfielder starred throughout much of his junior career, playing in both defence and the forward line throughout his time in the SANFL.
Joining North as the club’s first-ever number one pick, Horne-Francis has been touted as the man to lift North back to the top echelons of the ladder, a big expectation. Expected to earn his debut very early in the season, Horne-Francis will be hoping to spend his rookie season proving why he is worth the hype and more.
Under pressure: Hugh Greenwood
The former Sun made the switch to North Melbourne, his third AFL club, during a highly publicised off-season move at the end of 2021.
Leaving the struggling Suns to join another rebuilding team in the Kangaroos, Greenwood has experience in playing in an undermanned side, something that will be invaluable to a young engine room looking to climb their way off the bottom of the ladder.
Just like last year, North Melbourne are entering 2022 with few grand expectations sitting on their shoulders. With a last-place finish in 2021, the Kangaroos have been granted a more palatable fixture. Of the five teams they play twice - Geelong, Adelaide, Gold Coast, Hawthorn and Sydney, just two made finals last year.
With the inclusion of draftees like Horne-Francis and Phillips and the recruitment of Greenwood, North will be hoping to see some kind of tangible results on the field. It’s always tough to sell a rebuild and after dwelling in the bottom half of the ladder for the last few seasons, the club needs to see some drastic improvement.
If North can snag some of those games they came ever so close to winning in 2021 and eliminate the embarrassing blowout losses, the club should do enough to avoid a less than ideal back-to-back wooden spoon.
Five matches to watch
Round 1 vs. Hawthorn, MCG, Sunday March 20
Round 12 vs. Gold Coast, TIO Stadium, TBC
Round 14 vs. Adelaide, Blundstone Arena, TBC
Round 16 vs. Collingwood, MCG, TBC
Round 18 vs. Hawthorn, Blundstone Arena, TBC
All time games
- Brent Harvey - 432
- Drew Petrie - 316
- Glenn Archer - 311
- Adam Simpson - 306
- Wayne Schimmelbusch - 306
All time goals
- Wayne Carey - 671
- Brent Harvey - 518
- John Longmire - 511
- Jock Spencer - 475
- Malcolm Blight - 444
MOST DISPOSALS: Jy Simpkin - 592
MOST TACKLES: Jy Simpkin - 84
MOST CLEARANCES: Jy Simpkin/Ben Cunnington - 114
MOST MARKS: Jack Ziebell - 155
MOST GOALS: Nick Larkey - 42