AFL Mid-Season Review: North Melbourne

Skipper Jack Ziebell has been in career-best form this season. Picture: North Melbourne Football Club

As we hit the bye rounds in the AFL season, The Inner Sanctum will be conducting our mid-season reviews of all 18 clubs and assessing the first half of the season and what fortunes may lie ahead.

Up next, North Melbourne.

Snapshot:

Season 2021 has been a tough one for North Melbourne, with the club firmly entrenched in a deep rebuild.

Under new coach David Noble the Roos only have one win this year, but are developing a young list for the future.

What’s worked:

The half-back flank has been a source of rejuvenation for North, with two players in career-best form since moving down back.

Skipper Jack Ziebell has never played better, he is ranked elite for disposals (27), kicks (22), marks (eight), and meteres gained (546) this year, much to the delight of Roos and SuperCoach fans everywhere.

Aaron Hall’s career looked to be over, but he has been in rare form since coming back into the side.

Hall is averaging 25 disposals and 611 meters per game (both elite), and his kicking and ball-use off half-back have been a point of difference in a side otherwise struggling for class.

What Hasn’t:

The club’s on-field record, it has only won one game this season and has an average losing margin of 50 points.

The Roos have shown that they can be competitive in patches, but get easily scored against when this slips away.

This has been compounded by injuries to players like Robbie Tarrant, Jaidyn Stephenson, Ben Cunnington, Luke McDonald, Aidan Corr, and Jed Anderson.

Syd Barker Medal (Best and Fairest) contenders:

In his 13th season at the club, Ziebell is well placed to win his first B&F, given his current form and the team’s injuries.

Jy Simpkin and Ben McKay are smokies to challenge him, as they’ve played every game this season and have consistently been among the Roos’ best.

More AFL News

AFL mid-season review: Geelong Cats

2021 AFL Rising Star: Your clubs’ best rising star prospect

AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft 2021: Your club’s picks analysed

Who needs to lift?

Josh Walker was one of North’s feel-good stories last year, going from being delisted by Brisbane to finishing top 10 in the Roos’ B&F.

But the veteran finds himself in an awkward spot, McKay is the club’s key back for the next 10 years, and Tarrant and Corr will come back into the side at some point.

Walker’s form has been okay in recent weeks, but he was dropped earlier in the year and touched up by Josh Bruce on Easter Friday, raising questions over his long-term future at the club.

Expectations for the 2nd half of the season:

It’s hard to see the Roos winning too many games, with the second half of the season all about developing the list.

First-year player Tom Powell will firmly be in Rising Star calculations, Tarryn Thomas is in excellent form following a massive month and Luke Davies-Uniacke has shown the potential that made him a top-five pick.

Getting players back from injury will help and hopefully, last year’s third overall pick, Will Phillips, plays more games in the back-half of the year.

Prediction:

18th

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About Hamish Spence 52 Articles
Hamish writes about Aussie Rules, cricket, basketball and all things Tasmanian sport for The Inner Sanctum. His experience includes working for organisations like 10 News First, AFL Tasmania, The Mercury, the TSL, the Hobart Hurricanes and Draft Central. He recently finished a media degree at The University of Tasmania.

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