Recap of last season
Well what is there to say about North Melbourne in 2022? The coach was sacked, the wooden spoon was theirs and there were no real redeeming features of the season. That was of course until the signing of Alastair Clarkson was announced.
Everything was heaven for Roos fans for a couple of days. That was until the stories about how Clarkson was allegedly running Hawthorn came out, the abuse towards players and partners all of which is still playing out even though Clarkson is back at the club.
North won their second match of the season by 15 points getting over the top of the second-to-last-place Eagles. That was before they lost 8 of their next 11 by at least 50 points. A later season win against Richmond provided some hope but they then went on to lose their last five including a last-round loss to the Suns by 67 points.
How can they improve
Doing everything differently is the best way for the Roos to get better this time around. That might be a little harsh but it isn't far off, nothing worked for North in 2022, Ben Cunnington who is arguably their best player being out for a lot of the season also didn't help.
Last weekend we saw NRL 'Supercoach' Wayne Bennett take his new side the Dolphins to a win in their first game. While the Kangaroos are not a new team, they do have the AFL 'Supercoach' could we see the same?
Last season North Melbourne was well behind on goals kicked with just 193, almost 20 less than the next worst West Coast and almost half of the Geelong 359. They weren't much better in defence either finishing 16th in tackles and 13th in clearances.
IN: Blake Drury (Rookie Draft), Hamish Free (Rookie Draft), Brayden George (No.26 draft pick), Cooper Harvey (No.56 draft pick, father-son), Daniel Howe (Rookie Draft), Griffin Logue (trade, Fremantle), Harry Sheezel (No.3 draft pick), Liam Shiels (pre-season supplemental selection period), Darcy Tucker (trade, Fremantle), George Wardlaw (No.4 draft pick)
OUT: Jed Anderson (delisted), Atu Bosenavulagi (delisted), Kyron Hayden (delisted), Jason Horne-Francis (trade, Port Adelaide), Tom Lynch (retired), Matt McGuinness (delisted), Jared Polec (delisted), Josh Walker (delisted), Patrick Walker (delisted)
Alastair Clarkson surely has to be the strength of this lineup now. While his impact on the field will be limited it's all about the system he implements and we've seen the start of that with a massive laying off of both on-the-field and off-field staff as well as bringing in his men.
Young players are also going to be excellent for the Roos in 2023. Tom Powell, Will Phillips and Jaidyn Stephenson were all highlights last season and should be able to go to another level under the discipline of Clarkson. Luke Davies-Uniacke was also clearly the best player that the Roos had last year and could seriously be an All-Australian contender if things go right for him in 2023.
The Kangaroos are coming from so far back compared to the rest of the sides in the competition, their biggest weakness will simply be learning how to win. The most important area of the field to improve on is getting a stronger forward line.
It's hard to win without kicking goals and that's something they just haven't been able to do as of late. It's going to take time to get used to the Clarkson method and while it's likely to work at some point, will it take longer than one season to understand?
At 21 years old Will Phillips is one of the older rising star candidates from our previews. But having missed all of 2022 with glandular fever, despite being 21 he goes in as one of the young guns Clarkson will be looking to influence.
Having formerly been picked at Number 3 in the draft, the Roos fans should be excited at this prospect and what he can bring to the team. A pure midfielder he should be able to provide plenty of runs and carry through the middle while being incredibly strong in defence when required.
The Roos have been the worst team in the competition for a long time now. Having finished 12th, 17th, 18th and 18th in recent years. The good news is that things can only get better now.
Alastair Clarkson coming to the club put them on the front and back pages last year, but this time around they will want to be doing it for on-field reasons.
It will no doubt take time for Clarkson's system to be implemented into this team but once it does it will work. But for now, it's hard to see things getting better, at least in terms of ladder position. The Roos will be on the way up in years to come through.
Ladder position: 18th
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