AFL Rd 5 - Western Bulldogs v Gold Coast
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 17: Jack Lukosius of the Suns marks the ball against Easton Wood of the Bulldogs during the round five AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and the Gold Coast Titans at Marvel Stadium on April 17, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Footy fans nationwide know of the struggle North Melbourne has been through over the previous few years, with success being scarce since their run to the preliminary finals in 2015.

Things now look like they're turning for the best after the club declared themselves debt-free as well as things on-field starting to show signs of improvement under coach David Noble.

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Despite these positive signs, there is still a long road ahead before the Roos can get back to where they want to be, however, their night at the 2021 National Draft showed that it might not be as arduous as first thought.

The capture of Jason Horne-Francis at Pick 1 along with a host of other exciting prospects has made North Melbourne fans extremely excited for what signs of progress the team might display in 2022.

With this, who could Noble possibly grab in this hypothetical universe to kick North's revival into overdrive?

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If your team could steal one player: Essendon Bombers
If your team could steal one player: Fremantle Dockers
If your team could steal one player: Geelong Cats
If your team could steal one player: Gold Coast Suns
If your team could steal one player: GWS Giants
If your team could steal one player: Hawthorn Hawks
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If your team could steal one player: Melbourne Demons

Gaps in best 22

After finishing with the wooden spoon in 2021, North have some gaps in their team to address - especially considering their departures in the off-season.

Robbie Tarrant, Shaun Atley, Trent Dumont and Tom Campbell were among a series of others who said goodbye to Arden Street this off-season, meaning there are some holes in the list that need addressing.

Arguably the biggest of these is in defence, with both Tarrant and Atley playing pivotal roles in the Roos rearguard for quite some time.

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With those two now gone, Noble will need a defensive organiser who can lead by example and be one of the first magnets on the board every week.

A quarterback-esque defender who can start attacks from across halfback could be something worth looking into as well for the Roos.

Thirdly, a ruckman is definitely needed considering the age of Todd Goldstein, with the 33-year-old close to the end of his career as an AFL footballer.

The new arrival of Callum Coleman-Jones could be the answer, but with his ability still largely unproven, a reliable ruck option might be the way to go at Arden Street.

Finally, the club's key forward stocks are in dire need of replenishment with Ben Brown's departure still not being totally covered by the Roos recruitment staff.

Whilst the aforementioned Coleman-Jones is a viable option up forward to join Nick Larkey and Cam Zurhaar, he likely isn't a guarantee to turn into a superstar forward, meaning that a big key who can come in straight away and boot majors is what the Roos need.

Options to steal 

Option 1: Sam Collins

The Suns defender has had a solid past few seasons under Stuart Dew, winning the club best and fairest in 2020 and coming fourth in 2021.

Collins had his most industrious year yet, hitting personal best averages for disposals, marks and kicks to further cement himself as one of the best key defenders in the competition.

The 27-year-old finished 16th across the league for intercepts per game and fifth for one- percenters per game, showing that his work around the footy is very much elite standard when compared to the rest of the competition.

If he were to venture back home to Melbourne, specifically to Arden Street, he would slot right into defence and partner with the likes of Ben McKay, Aidan Corr and Aiden Bonar to form a rock-solid back six.

Option 2: Jack Lukosius

Another bright-burning Sun is highly-touted youngster Jack Lukosius, whose distribution by foot is one of the best going around.

The tall defensive midfielder stands at a towering 195cm and provides a sound set of hands across the defensive 50, as well as being able to pick out a target by foot with effortless precision when needed.

At just 21 years of age, the world is at Lukosius' feet when it comes to what he can develop into with his hybrid nature meaning he can be deployed in a series of positions when required.

If David Noble somehow poached him then he would likely slot into centre-half back, with Aaron Hall and Luke McDonald on either side of him.

His spread by foot to his midfielders in front of him would be a dream for the Roos, with Lukosius sure to feature heavily in his side for years to come.

Option 3: Max Gawn

This man needs no introduction, with Gawn being the best ruckman in recent memory and accentuating such with a maiden premiership win in 2021.

His five-goal demolition job of the Cats in this year's preliminary final showed why he is so worthy to the Demons, effectively snuffing out Geelong's season off his own boot.

Gawn finished first across the league for total hit-outs and third for total contested marks, displaying evidence of how he is unbeatable in the air.

So good is Gawn that he would easily put Todd Goldstein on the bench should he join North Melbourne, with his mammoth frame transforming the Roos' ability to win the ball around stoppages.

Additionally, the goal threat that he provides means that should the Roos ever be in need of some attacking threat, Gawn could temporarily be deployed in attack to pluck a major for David Noble.

Option 4: Harry McKay

The young forward had his breakout year in 2021, winning a maiden Coleman Medal and earning himself a big contract extension with the Blues.

McKay was ranked first for goals (across the home-and-away season) and marks inside 50 per game, giving more than enough to suggest that he is the best key forward in the game at this point in time.

With 58 goals in just 19 appearances in 2021, the sky seems to be the limit with this man and when he becomes a free agent in 2023, the Blues will have a huge battle on their hands to keep him.

Joining North Melbourne would see him link up with brother Ben, with the twins taking up positions at both ends of the ground.

He would provide a third spike to make a formidable attacking trident with the likes of Larkey and Zurhaar, giving goals galore from the offing.

At just 23 years of age, McKay would be a stalwart of the Roos' setup for years to come and aid the club heavily in their ascent back to the top.

Verdict 

As much as Harry linking up with Ben would be a dream come true for Roos fans, defensive solidity is needed much more than attacking prowess at Arden Street at this point in time.

Sam Collins would be an ideal candidate to create what would be a fantastic defence that David Noble could build upon in years to come, with his ability to intercept and read the game something that North are lacking in without the aforementioned Robbie Tarrant.

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A backline containing Ziebell, Bonar, McKay, Hall, McDonald, Corr and now Collins would be a very good one at that, locking down the opposition's key forwards and nipping attacks in the bud.

Additionally, at just 27 years of age, Collins still is just coming into his prime and would still have so much to give for several years yet.