Only a few weeks ago, it looked like North Melbourne could be headed for an all-out rebuild. But with the club’s stunning form revival, what does that mean for the likes Shaun Higgins, Todd Goldstein and Ben Brown going forward?
North Melbourne’s resurgence under Rhyce Shaw has been exciting to watch.
And the thing that has impressed me most is the form of the kids.
Nick Larkey certainly has a future up forward and those key position youngsters with star potential can often be the hardest to find.
I’ve also loved what I’ve seen from the likes of Tarryn Thomas, Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin.
Given the club has only had one top five draft pick since 2010, that is a huge tick for the recruiting department.
Shaw has got this group playing with more freedom and it is clear he has a strong relationship with the players.
When the club was struggling at the start of the season, there was plenty of talk about rebuilding and questions being asked about the Roos’ veterans.
Even though the kids are leading the charge, I don’t think the club should be thinking about moving on any of its older stars.
While rivals contending for premierships might come knocking with offers for the likes of Shaun Higgins, Ben Brown and Robbie Tarrant, North needs these guys, both as great players and also as leaders.
Ask St Kilda how parting ways with their two most experienced players in Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna in the same off-season impacted their leadership.
Now is the time for the club to put its “war chest” of salary cap space to good use.
In the past they have gone after superstars but I don’t necessarily think they need to continue down that path.
When a club is on the way up, it makes more sense to build a group that can develop together.
I would be looking at players in the 22-24 age range who are crying out for more opportunity.
One player who has a big decision to make at the end of the season is Todd Goldstein.
As a free agent at 31, this is probably his last chance to get a big contract.
Regardless of Goldstein’s decision, I think the Kangaroos still need to address their ruck depth.
Braydon Preuss left last off-season and the Goldstein succession plan needs to kick off sooner rather than later.
LIAM TWOMEY BREAKS DOWN NORTH’S BIGGEST TRADE QUESTIONS
THREE PLAYERS ROOS RECRUITERS ARE WATCHING
A free agent at the end of the season, Todd Goldstein has a very interesting decision to make. While he has said he is keen to stay, rival clubs looking for a quality ruckman will continue to ask the question as long as he remains unsigned. He is 31 years old but has showed he is still among the top rucks in the competition.
North Melbourne’s form revival is a major spanner in the works for a number of clubs anticipating the Kangaroos were set for a rebuild. That could have potentially opened the door to poach Shaun Higgins. At 31 years of age, he no doubt wants to play for a contender. Does his timeline match up with the improving kids at Arden Street?
Still only 26 years old, Ben Brown would be hot property if he hit the open market. He’s on track to kick 60 goals for the third successive year and the Roos would not want to lose him. Any rival that comes knocking better be prepared to pay up.
THREE ROOS RIVAL RECRUITERS ARE WATCHING
The Magpies have no shortage of forward depth. And with the development of Callum Brown this year, that has only got deeper. Where does it leave Jamie Elliott? He is still unsigned beyond this year and given what he is capable of when fully fit, he could be the ideal low risk, high reward trade.
The Roos have struck out on big names before but they continue to ask the questions. Jack Martin would be a brilliant addition to a club looking for some silky skills, both up forward and in the midfield. They will have to make a big financial commitment though, with Martin said to be in the mix for a $700,000 offer.
A 202cm ruckman, Peter Ladhams has been racking up massive numbers in the SANFL all season. However, he is stuck behind Scott Lycett and Paddy Ryder in the Port Adelaide pecking order. Regardless of what Todd Goldstein decides to do with his future, Ladhams is just 21 and would be a good fit at North. He is out of contract at the end of the season.
RATE THE 2018 TRADE PERIOD
The Kangaroos were one of the most active clubs during the 2018 off-season, adding a host of mature age recruits. Jared Polec and Jasper Pittard came over as a package deal from Port Adelaide and have largely been a success. Polec’s disposals numbers are slightly down on last year but his scoring output has increased. Meanwhile, Pittard hasn’t missed a game on the backline. Ex-Sun Aaron Hall is currently taking time away from the club to focus on his mental health. Former Demon Dom Tyson has been forced to spend time in the VFL.
North Melbourne appears to have struck gold at the draft. Highly touted No. 8 pick Tarryn Thomas is a rising star in every sense with Rhyce Shaw recently saying, “I haven’t seen a kid come into the competition and be so clean like that.” Bailey Scott has also picked up a Rising Star nomination, with the Roos having the most nominees of any side in the competition. Parting ways with Braydon Preuss hasn’t impacted the club negatively, with the inconsistent ruckman playing just three games for Melbourne this year.