It was not long ago when North Melbourne played in two preliminary finals, but after a season to forget last year, Jamie Macmillan believes they will attempt to fast track the core of younger players without giving away the aspirations of making finals this season.
He believes that the new long-term contract given to Brad Scott last year has given the players a sense of purpose for the future. He has said that the immense trust placed in Scott has flowed onto the players.
“From my view (the contract extension is) paramount. You look at guys like Robbie Tarrant, Jack Ziebell, Shaun Higgins and for them to know where we are and have that stability in place, we can knuckle down and work towards a plan,’’ Macmillan said.
“Rather than say we are playing out the year not knowing and uncertain.
“Particularly the older guys, they are saying what is my footy like in the next couple of years.
“For the club to say, ‘This is the plan’, it gives you a sense of purpose playing this year. We are helping these young kids improve and I am rapt he’s signed on.
Macmillan believes that a quick return to the finals is imminent, but still remains confident that no matter the result this season, the Roos will make a quick bounce back up the ladder.
“If we aren’t playing finals this year we will be pretty disappointed and shattered but we have some good kids who are keen as mustard to play on that big stage,” the defender added.
“I am most excited about the guys who have been here for three or four years. Guys like Ben Brown and Luke McDonald haven’t been here forever, and Mason Wood.
“Those guys can go up another five or 10 per cent, then we have got guys like Jy Simpkin who had a ripping year and third-year players like Ryan Clark and Mitch Hibberd.
“They are the ones I would be keeping an eye on.”
Without putting a heap of pressure on number four draft pick Luke Davies-Uniacke, Macmillan was full of praise for the youngster, saying there is no reason why he wouldn’t be making his debut in Round 1.
“He’s your modern day footballer. Without putting too much pressure on him he’s a big-bodied midfielder who is good overhead, can mark the footy and play mid, play forward, play on a wing,” Macmillan said.
“He is the kind of player everyone grow up dreaming of having that mould. His stuff in tight and his spatial awareness is elite and he has strength over the footy.
“He had a minor back spasm at training (last week) but I dare say he will play next week and the week after and have a good crack at (Round 1).”
North Melbourne play their opening JLT fixture on Saturday against Melbourne in Tasmania.