It was always going to be a busy offseason for North Melbourne and AFL fans are going to paying particularly close attention to how a new-look Kangaroos team fare when the 2017 season gets underway in March. Having lost almost 1,500 games worth of experience over the past few months, North Melbourne will have an unfamiliar look about them this season, but there are plenty of reasons to suggest the Roos have the ability to improve on the club’s relatively successful performance in the 2016 campaign.
The departures and retirements of club legends Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito, Darren Wells, Farren Ray and Nick Dal Santo was always going to be a big hit to this squad in terms of experience, but the younger members of this team will have learned some valuable lessons by playing alongside those now former Roos. Those veterans couldn’t end their time with the club on a real high after reaching the finals for the fourth time in five years, falling at the first hurdle after suffering defeat at the hands of Adelaide in the Elimination Finals.
While not among the favorites, North Melbourne are being backed as potential dark horses by some, with odds of 18/1 with bet365 to reach the grand final for the first time in nearly 20 years. Among the 11 new faces that have arrived at the club during the offseason, a number could have big roles next season and Roos fans will rightly be feeling excited about the potential of this squad head coach Brad Scott has at his disposal heading into the 2017 campaign. Success almost certainly won’t come instantly for the club, but this was something that was always going to happen, with the likes of Harvey and other now arguably past their best.
With plans now well underway for the new season, the Roos recently revealed Jack Ziebell has taken over from Andrew Swallow as skipper, with Robbie Tarrant capping a sensational 12 months by being named as vice-captain ahead of the new year, with Jamie Macmillan and Shaun Higgins as deputy vice-captains. Swallow will remain part of the club’s leadership group as the fifth member having stepped down from the captaincy following five years after taking over from Harvey in 2012. Ziebell has proven himself during his time at the club and his appointment hasn’t come as a surprise to many. The 25-year old will now have a big job on his hands to lead this team through something of a transitional period.
The club have certainly taken a risk by not keeping at least some of those veterans that left the club at the end of last season. It remains to be seen whether this will be something the fans use against the management if the Roos get off to a slow start when the new season begins, but the signs are positive as the club look towards the future after falling short so many times in recent history.