North Melbourne’s 2022 review: The Hope, the Hurt, the Clanger

North Melbourne’s 2022 season was as dismal as it could get, with fans struggling to see the year’s positive results.

The Kangaroos received their 15th wooden spoon after going through consecutive campaigns at the bottom of the rankings.

However, with a strong preseason in which the club introduced number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis, optimism was in the air.

Relatively strong at the start of the season, North Melbourne were tied 1-1 after the first two rounds but met Brisbane in round three, who suffered a 108-point loss.

From there, the Kangaroos didn’t look like winning a game for the rest of the year and faced many big losses including 112 points (vs Geelong), 78 (Fremantle), 69 (Port Adelaide) and 68 (Western bulldogs).

In May, three recruiters left the club (Glenn Luff, Mark Finnigan and Ben Birthisel).

On July 12, senior coach David Noble was fired despite having started his career 18 months earlier by taking over from interim leader Leigh Adams.

However, the week after Noble was shown the door, the Kangaroos recorded their second win of the year in round 18 against Richmond by four points.

With speculation as to who would be named coach in 2023, there was movement for Alastair Clarkson as President Dr. Sonja Hood insisted on getting her man.

On August 19, Clarkson returned to his footballing roots, returning to the club he played for from 1987-1995.

North Melbourne fans breathed a sigh of relief.

The hope

Alastair Clarkson

Arguably the greatest leader of modern times, the four-time Premier League manager at Hawthorn has come across as a messiah.

With his uncanny ability to get the best out of his roster, North Melbourne are hoping they’ll see their players improve significantly but are realistic about their chances of rapid promotion.

The former North Melbourne player started from scratch with Hawthorn and was able to call up the likes of Lance Franklin, Jordan Roughead and Jordan Lewis early on, while also having a young Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge on the list.

After taking the Hawks in 2004 to a Premiership title in 2008, Kangaroo fans are optimistic about the journey they will embark on with Clarkson.

What followed shortly after the 2008 Premiership for Hawthorn was a dynasty consisting of a three-pointer (2013-2015) and a lost Grand Final (2012).

While it’s hard to see how the current Kangaroos roster can emulate what Clarkson did with the Hawks nearly two decades ago, it’s possible the road to success may begin in 2023.

The youth

The Kangaroos boast a roster of young talents, led by Luke Davies-Uniacke, 23, and Jy Simpkin, 24, for the club to build their future on.

Davies-Uniacke was snubbed for inclusion in the all-Australia squad after having a career-best year of his career, averaging 25 possessions, five clearances, four tackles and four marks.

Horne-Francis, 19, is another name Clarkson would like to keep, while Cam Zurhaar, 24, is key to her prospects.

Then add Ben McKay, Paul Curtis, Tristan Xerri, Phoenix Spicer, Will Phillips, Tom Powell, Tarryn Thomas, Nick Larkey and Callum Coleman-Jones to the mix and there are bones that can sustain a structure.

A club for Clarkson to build on, with key players all under the age of 25.

North Melbourne’s playlist currently ranks 17th in the AFL and is listed with an average age of 23.7, indicating a wealth of experience and learning.

The pain

20 casualties

North Melbourne stuck to two wins in 2022 and suffered 20 losses in a disappointing year.

With a percentage of 55.8, their average loss margin was 48 points.

The Kangaroos found it much harder to come up with a winning score, averaging 61 points over the year compared to their opponents’ 109.

This is significantly worse than the 2021 season there, which brought four wins and one draw and a percentage of 70.3.

Last year, they managed to score 66 points in response to their competitors’ 94 points.

The kangaroos also suffered two losses of over 100 points in 2022 (112 and 108 points).

Is Zurhaar’s attention elsewhere?

Zurhaar has been linked with a move to Essendon as the star striker’s contract has expired.

The loss of the 24-year-old would add to the turmoil on Arden Street but Kangaroos faithful are hoping Clarkson could turn his head and keep him in North Melbourne.

Zurhaar has proven to be a match winner despite winning 22 games in his 83-game career.

Possible return of Horne-Francis to SA

Coveted number one draft pick Horne-Francis was caught liking a sham deal that saw him return to his home state of South Australia.

The South Adelaide product was visibly upset at times throughout the season as they were used to success in a football environment.

Horne-Francis has been caught more than once having verbal disagreements with senior Kangaroos players and has shown signs of frustration, which has led to constant speculation about his future at North Melbourne.

The Sounder

Treatment of David Noble

Although North Melbourne got their man at Clarkson, Noble’s treatment was just plain unfair and unfair.

Appointed in early 2021, the former Brisbane GM was sacked after 38 games at the helm despite inheriting a difficult list.

Unfortunately, Noble managed to win five games for the Kangaroos for a 14 percent win rate.

Noble had 18 months to rotate a club to finish 17th (2020) and 12th (2019) in previous years.

In a time of turbulence, three recruiting staff left the club (Glenn Luff, Mark Finnigan and Ben Birthisel) before Noble was sacked, showing a sinking ship passing on Arden Street.

What does North Melbourne need?

Over the course of 2022, North Melbourne scored extremely well, conceding 2397 points in 22 rounds.

Averaging 109 points per game, the Kangaroos are in dire need of some defenders, preferably some key players.

Looking ahead to Ben McKay, he’s also improving in the way the club expect him to, but has little help as Josh Walker and Aidan Corr fail to hold down the opposing striker.

Considering Clarkson has a long way to go to rebuild this club, it wouldn’t hurt to draft a few key defenders in the next few drafts rather than trade a few in big money deals.

Building the spine is something the former Hawthorn trainer should tackle right away.

Another area of ​​improvement the kangaroos could take a look at is another key forward.

Nick Larkey and Zurhaar make strong targets, but just like McKay in the back, they need help.

Players associated with the club

Although not official, the signing of Alastair Clarkson as senior manager has now brought Brad Hill up as a potential target for North Melbourne.

Still signed at St Kilda, Hill seems open to a move to a fourth AFL club as a reunion with a former manager seems on the cards.

2022 player without a contract

player name status
Jed Anderson Outside the contract
Atu Bosenavulagi Outside the contract
death Goldstein Unrestricted Free Agent
Aaron Hall Outside the contract
Cyron Hayden Unrestricted Free Agent
Matthew McGuiness Outside the contract
Flyn Perez Outside the contract
Curtis Taylor Outside the contract
Kayne Turner Unrestricted Free Agent
Josh Walker Unrestricted Free Agent
Patrick Walker Outside the contract
Lachi Young Outside the contract
Cam Zurhaar Outside the contract

Retirees and Delistings

player name status
Tom Lynch Retired

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *