The Kangaroos are ready to take a big step in their rebuild after a sustained period in the bottom two. (Image: North Melbourne)

After a sustained period in the bottom two of the league, North Melbourne will look to finally move up the AFL ladder in 2024.

2023 Overview

The North Melbourne Kangaroos ushered in a new era last year, appointing the legendary Alastair Clarkson as their new head coach. Expectations were high heading into a new campaign, with the Kangaroos securing the first win of the season against West Coast in Round 1.

As the season went on though, the side didn’t exactly progress the way we thought. 20 consecutive losses saw the Roos slump to a 17th place finish and they didn’t exactly show as much progress as we thought they would.

The Kangaroos will now go into the 2024 season looking to show those signs, and improve on their total of three victories from last year.

Off-season changes

In: Wil Dawson (Pick 22), Zane Duursma (Pick 4), Zac Fisher (trade, Carlton), Taylor Goad (Pick 20), Riley Hardeman (Pick 23), Finnbar Maley (Rookie Draft), Colby McKercher (Pick 2), Bigoa Nyuon (trade, Richmond), Toby Pink (free agent), Tyler Sellers (SSP, North Melbourne VFL), Dylan Stephens (trade, Sydney)

Out: Aiden Bonar (delisted), Ben Cunnington (retired), Jacob Edwards (delisted), Todd Goldstein (Essendon), Aaron Hall (retired), Daniel Howe (retired), Jack Mahony (delisted), Ben McKay (Essendon), Flynn Perez (delisted), Phoenix Spicer (delisted), Kayne Turner (delisted), Lachie Young (delisted), Jack Ziebell (retired)

A major loss for North Melbourne occurred in the off-season with the departure of key defender Ben McKay, taking six years of AFL experience over to Essendon. Todd Goldstein went on to follow him, signing with Essendon on a one-year deal.

However, it won’t be just McKay and Goldstein that will be absent from the playing list for the upcoming AFL campaign. 

Several players faced the cut, with Aiden Bonar, Jacob Edwards, Jack Mahony, Flynn Perez, Phoenix Spicer, Kayne Turner and Lachie Young all delisted from the club. Whilst Aaron Hall, Ben Cunnington, Daniel Howe and Jack Ziebell announced their retirements.

The Kangaroos wasted no time in filling the empty spots though, securing the services of Carlton speedster Zac Fisher. Prior to his arrival at Arden Street, the classy small forward had an impressive campaign last year averaging 20.8 disposals per game across 12 matches.

Midfielder Dylan Stephens (Sydney Swans) and ruck/key defender Bigoa Nyuon (Richmond) should both have an impact this season, while Toby Pink also signed on with the club after winning a premiership with SANFL side Glenelg last season.

North Melbourne also secured significant young talent, selecting Colby McKercher, Zane Duursma, Taylor Goad, Wil Dawson and Riley Hardeman in last year’s national draft. Northern Bullants player Finnbar Maley was also picked up in the rookie draft and has plenty of potential.

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Opening Round: Bye 

Round 1: GWS Giants (Giants Stadium)

Round 2: Fremantle (Marvel Stadium)

Round 3: Carlton (Marvel Stadium)

Round 4: Brisbane (Norwood Oval)

Round 5: Geelong (GMHBA Stadium)

Round 6: Hawthorn (Marvel Stadium)

Round 7: Adelaide (Adelaide Oval)

Round 8: St Kilda (Marvel Stadium)

Round 9: Gold Coast (TIO Stadium)

Round 10: Essendon (Marvel Stadium)

Round 11: Port Adelaide (Blundstone Arena)

Round 12: Bye 

Round 13: West Coast (Optus Stadium)

Round 14: Collingwood (Marvel Stadium)

Round 15: Melbourne (MCG)

Round 16: Western Bulldogs (Marvel Stadium)

Round 17: Gold Coast (Marvel Stadium)

Round 18: Sydney (SCG)

Round 19: Carlton (Marvel Stadium)

Round 20: Geelong (Bludstone Arena)

Round 21: Richmond (Marvel Stadium)

Round 22: West Coast (Bludstone Arena)

Round 23: Western Bulldogs (Marvel Stadium)

Round 24: Hawthorn (University of Tasmania Stadium)

Looking at 2024

With the Roos just over a week away from their opening game, a number of players have shown promising signs during the pre-season.

Young star George Wardlaw is looking to be someone who takes their game to the next level in 2024. The 19-year-old has been impressing on the track during pre-season in recent weeks, with some positive progress after a first season that was injury interrupted at times. However, he caught the attention of AFL fans across his six appearances, averaging 14.6 disposals and 5.8 tackles per game, and will look to build on that in 2024.

Colby McKercher, who was taken at Pick 2 in the draft, is another name that has been making his mark during the pre-season. He will be a great addition, and an exciting prospect to develop over the years.

North Melbourne will also have their side bolstered with the return of multiple players that had been nursing injuries. Forward Brayden George will be looking to commence his first full year after spending the entirety of 2023 recovering from an ACL and shoulder injury.

Tristan Xerri will look to have a full year as the sides number one ruckman, while new recruit Zac Fisher will aim for a consistent run in the side after a hamstring injury during pre-season.

Prediction: 14th

Following on from a disappointing first year under new head coach Alastair Clarkson, the Kangaroos could be set for a bigger and more impressive campaign this season.

Should they continue to improve as a unit, and stay healthy throughout the year, the combination of their exciting new talent and development of current stars could be the key to a rise up the ladder for the Kangaroos in 2024.

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