SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 06: Jason Horne-Francis of the Kangaroos celebrates kicking a goal during the AFL AAMI Community Series match between the Sydney Swans and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at GIANTS Stadium on March 06, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

North Melbourne are the current AFL wooden spooners and the favourites with betting markets to claim that honour again in 2022. They finished in 18th position with just four wins and one draw last season and according to the odds, many punters don’t think there’s much to look forward to in 2022.

Before you put in your AFL tips for Round 1, I’m here to tell you that those people are wrong.

There’s plenty for North fans to get excited about in 2022, and it’s staggering that they are still considered most likely to finish on the bottom of the ladder this season. I’d rather be in North’s position right now than several other clubs right now.

Here are five reasons why North Melbourne won’t finish last this season.

  1. Quality Ruck Division

Good ruckmen are hard to find, but North have had one for more than a decade with the lanky and underrated Todd Goldstein. For years, 'Goldy' has been plodding around by himself for nearly the entire game, but his tap work is first class and he gets around the ground nicely. This season might be a year of transition for Goldy as North have a couple of good young rucks waiting in the wings.

There’s a reason why North fought hard to hold onto Tristan Xerri during the trade period. He has dominated at VFL level and if his performance in the AAMI Community Series is anything to go by, he might be ready to step up to AFL level this season. The Roos also brought in Callum Coleman-Jones from Richmond, and have mid-season No.1 pick Jacob Edwards in development. It’s an exciting group of rucks for the Roos.

  1. Noble’s Plan

Coach David Noble is now entering his second year at the helm of the Roos. He definitely brought in a new style last season, with North being more adventurous through the middle of the ground. That was always going to be high risk, high reward. Expect the North squad to understand and execute Noble’s game plan better than last season, which can only have a positive influence on results.

  1. Developing Midfield

On paper, the emerging North Melbourne midfield looks as exciting as any team in the competition. High draft recruits such as Jy Simpkin, Tarryn Thomas, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Will Phillips, Tom Powell and Jaidyn Stephenson are all another year wiser and might just be ready to have breakout seasons. Throw in the experience and hard heads of Hugh Greenwood, Jed Anderson and Ben Cunnington when available, and the Roos have the right mix to compete with any team in the middle of the ground.

  1. Tall Forwards

Nick Larkey might just be the most underrated full-forward in the AFL competition. In his first season as the number one key forward in the team last year, Larkey kicked 42 goals in the team which finished bottom of the ladder. That’s a pretty impressive return. He leads, marks and competes really well, and he’s an exceptional kick for goal.

This season, Larkey will have support from Callum Coleman-Jones and Charlie Comben who are both super exciting young forwards. If these guys can develop in the right way, then it’s good times ahead for the Roos.

  1. Number 1 Draft Pick

Of course, it’s hard to talk about improvement in 2022 without mentioning the number 1 draft pick in Jason Horne-Francis. This kid is built to play in 2022. After two years of senior football in the SANFL, JHF is physically strong and ready to go in Round 1 for the Roos. He’ll float mostly across half-forward but will build into the middle similar to a Jordan De Goey. Expect him to crash packs, crunch tackles and kick goals for the Roos this season.