North coach Brad Scott made the call after each player impressed during the pre-season, and he believes it will pave the way for young players being given opportunities for the entire 2017 season.
“We’ve picked the team on merit and those guys have seized their opportunities, which is exactly what we thought would happen,” Scott told AFL.com.au.
“Of those six new guys, Jy is the only first-year player, so the other boys have been working really hard over a period of time and have learnt their craft underneath some pretty good and pretty experienced players.
“So we think they’re certainly more ready than back in 2010 when we were playing a whole lot of first-year players early and we persisted with them over a long period of time. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that the club in all facets has a much, much better base right here, right now, than we did in 2010.”
Preuss was elevated to North Melbourne’s senior list last season after two years on the rookie list, and alongside Simpkin was one of the Roos’ most impressive during the pre-season.
Hibberd (pick 33 in 2015) and Mountford (pick 60 in 2015) both put their hands up over the JLT Series, and will now make their debuts after differing seasons in 2016.
Hibberd’s past season was compounded by injuries, while Mountford was brilliant for North’s VFL affiliate Werribee last season, finishing second in their best and fairest count.