North Melbourne consider push for senior recruits

Anna Harrington |

Norths coach Alastair Clarkson is open to recruiting experienced players at the struggling AFL club.
Norths coach Alastair Clarkson is open to recruiting experienced players at the struggling AFL club.

North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson hopes to recruit senior players from other clubs to bolster his youthful list, while lamenting the AFL’s “very constrained, regulated” player movement system.

The bottom-placed Kangaroos are winless from their opening nine games ahead of facing in-form Essendon on Sunday and lack experience across the park.

Brisbane coach Chris Fagan notably recruited ex-Hawks Luke Hodge and Grant Birchall to help direct their younger players.

Melbourne turned to the likes of Bernie Vince, Chris Dawes, Daniel Cross, Jordan Lewis and Dom Tyson to add experience and big bodies to their list before their current stars broke through.

Sydney’s Luke Parker and Essendon’s Dylan Shiel were used as examples of senior players currently unable to break into high-flying teams.

When asked if he would be interested in attracting those types of senior players, Clarkson said: “Yeah, I think so.

“We’ve seen that model before, particularly at Brisbane. Fages did that with Hodgey and Grant Birchall. 

“And we need that sort of leadership and direction too that will assist us as well … that bracket of probably 25-to-30-year-olds in our club is probably a little bit less than the depth in that area at other clubs. So we’ll look at that.

“But they need to be the right fit. We need to feel like they can come in and make a contribution on field. It’s not just bringing them in because they’re good fellas, or historically they’ve been good leaders at their previous clubs. 

“But we’ll look at any mechanism possible that can help fast-track these players through our system.”

The Kangaroos last season added ex-Blue and former Swan Dylan Stephens to their mix – though both were fringe players at their previous clubs. 

Clarkson said recruitment was more an end-of-season call, but conceded the Kangaroos could use the mid-season draft to add some experience.

Callum Coleman-Jones and Josh Goater are both out for the season through achilles injuries.

Clarkson was on the fence regarding whether a mid-season trade period should be introduced, admitting the Kangaroos would have loved to have been able to add key forward support for Nick Larkey.

“But sometimes you can be biased towards your own personal circumstances,” he conceded. 

“And you push for that to be the case and then there might be another club or it might be our club in two years’ time saying, ‘no, this mid-season draft’s got whiskers on it’.

“But there’s certainly some merit.

“I do know that the mechanisms with being able to move players around, it’s a very constrained, regulated system that we work in. 

“So it makes it very, very difficult to change the profile of the list really, really quickly.”