North Melbourne VFL senior coach David Loader gives his thoughts on the club’s upcoming Hard Yakka / Totally Workwear VFL season.
2018 FINISH: 10th (8-10 record)
2018 HONOURS: Nick Larkey (‘Frosty’ Miller Medal)
2018 BEST AND FAIREST: 1. Nick Rippon / 2. Chris Jansen / 3. Ben McKay
2019 SEASON START: vs Werribee @ Avalon Airport Oval, Saturday April 6 (CLICK HERE for full fixture)
* CLICK HERE for information on purchasing a 2019 membership for North Melbourne and other VFL clubs.
Brendan Whitecross (29yo in 2019, from Hawthorn AFL): “Brendan will be a playing assistant coach for us. He brings a wealth of experience (111 AFL games) that will be beneficial for our group, because we were extremely young last year. He’s so versatile on the field too – he can play forward, back or as an inside and outside midfielder. He keeps telling me he’ll play at full forward and I should empty the forward line out for him, but we’ll see…”
“It’s not going to change too much,”
While his surroundings may have changed, experienced defender Brendan Whitecross declares it will be business as usual at Arden Street.
— North Melbourne VFL (@NorthVFL) November 14, 2018
Daniel Robinson (25yo in 2019, from Sydney AFL): “Along with Brendan, Dan brings some experience (25 AFL games) into the group, and we need that with the departure of (2018 co-captain) Michael Close. He’s probably going to be an inside midfield-type player for us.”
Alex Morgan (23yo in 2019, from North Melbourne AFL): “We look at Alex a bit differently to Brendan and Dan because he’s already been at the club for 12 months (on the AFL list) and he played 11 VFL games for us last year. I see him as a really positive signing because he wanted to be here again, and no doubt he’ll play a lot of footy for us this year.”
* CLICK HERE to see key ins and outs at each VFL club for 2019.
We have finalised our VFL playing squad ahead of the season proper next month.Among the new faces are former Sydney utility Daniel Robinson, who played 25 games across five seasons for the Swans.
POTENTIAL BIG IMPROVERS
Nick Rippon (25yo in 2019, 97 VFL games), Chris Jansen (24yo in 2019, 18 VFL games) and Nash Holmes (22yo in 2019, 34 VFL games): “Nick and Chris ran first and second in our best-and-fairest last year and we expect them to be better players again this year. I think varying their on-field roles will help them go to the next level – and Nash sits in that bracket as well.
“Most people would say they’re just three inside midfielders, but our AFL list has changed a bit this year and a lot more midfielders have been brought into the group, so that creates some massive opportunities for growth for the VFL guys. Nick could play as a small defender or small forward, Chris could play more as an outside midfielder or half back/half forward and I can see Nash playing as an inside midfielder/forward.”
ELIGIBLE 23rd PLAYERS TO WATCH
Cameron Hodges (20yo in 2019, from St Kevin’s), Lachlan McLean (20yo in 2019, Redan) and Rhys Mutch (20yo in 2019, from Westmeadows): “Cam, Lachie and Rhys are the three that we’d like to see get the first opportunity as the 23rd player. All of them have good potential.”
“At this stage last year, we were creating a list of 24 VFL players that had never been involved with us before, so all our pre-season training was built around things being new. This year a lot of guys have re-signed from 2018, so we’re not starting from as far back and that’s made it a little bit easier to define what we want to put in place.
“We’d like anyone that comes to watch us play to say we look the same at VFL level as we do at AFL level – that’s when we know we’re doing the right things to develop our kids. We want to bring pressure to the opposition and play an exciting brand of football.”
ASSISTANT COACHING PANEL
Back line coach: Matt Kershaw (from Werribee)
Midfield line coach: Robbie Waters (retained from 2018)
Forward line coach: Ben Davey (retained from 2018)
Development coaches: Gavin Brown (retained from 2018) and Brendan Whitecross (see above)
HEADLINE YOU WANT TO SEE
“I want to see ‘Babysitter no longer required at Arden St’, because we were frightfully young last year. Even our 18 to 20-year-old players look so much stronger this year; it’s amazing how much they can develop at that age with 12 months of weights and running work behind them.”
* CLICK HERE for 2019 season previews on other Hard Yakka / Totally Workwear VFL clubs.