After choosing to clean out a number of aging stars at the end of last year, 2017 was always going to be one of lowered expectations as the club began its rebuild. There still wouldn’t have been many who would have predicted just how difficult North would find year 1 of the new age.
Roo Cull: A Cruel End to a 432 Game Journey
A painful afternoon in round five against Fremantle saw the Kangaroos cough up a five goal lead and consign the team to an 0-5 start to the season. After three straight finals campaigns it was a rapid fall from grace for North Melbourne fans. “I definitely feel their pain in seeing the team fall through so quickly and that poorly,” Sudi Chandrasekharan, AFL Editor at RealSport101.com, told The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav. “Yes they’ve given the kids some time but their senior players have fallen off.”
Asked to nominate a player as North Melbourne’s Best and Fairest winner in 2017, The Pinch Hitter’s Pav raved about the Sideshow Bob lookalike, Ben Brown. “With Jarrad Waite having issues, and I think North are hurt badly without him, he (Brown) was their star,” Pav told the AFL review panel on The Pinch Hitters Podcast. It’s easy to understand the nomination, Brown was an imposing presence for the Kangaroos up forward, only one player took more marks than he did inside Forward 50 in 2017. Deadly accurate in front of goal Brown kicked 63.30 for the year and was unlucky to miss All-Australian selection after finishing third in the race for the Coleman Medal.
“Brown has been a positive,” says Chandrasekharan, “as has the development of Brayden Preuss.” You would have received long odds on the suggestion that Preuss might dethrone Todd Goldstein as the Kangaroos Number 1 Ruckman, but after an impressive JLT Series and season he may well begin 2018 in that very role.
North Melbourne defeated just one team bound for the 2017 finals, but what a win it was. In Round Seven at Blundstone Arena, the Kangaroos ambushed the previously undefeated Crows with a withering 10 goal to zip first quarter. With Ben Cunnington and Mason Wood running amok in the middle and Jarrad Waite kicking 6-goals, the Kangaroos were simply unstoppable as they ran away with 59-point win over the team bound for the Minor Premiership.
“We’ve talked all year about how bright the future looks and hopefully our supporters got a good look at it today.”
Brad Scott after Round 7 victory over Adelaide.
After a lot of speculation throughout the season, Pav was happy with the Kangaroos moves to lock down their coach for the long term. “Resigning Brad Scott is a positive because it gives him three years to turn over the list.” Pav said. It was a decisive move by the club and a massive show of faith in Scott. It is also a necessary one to provide the Coach with the security needed to continue with the rebuild commence in 2017 with the debut of 10 players. There are no guarantees in the AFL, but the Kangaroos understand their situation and have begun the long, slow climb up the mountain.
Check out The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav Podcast where the boys looked ahead to the finals and passed judgement on the Kangaroos and all the teams that have already begun planning for 2018.