AFL Rd 2 - Gold Coast v North Melbourne
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 27: Jack Ziebell and the Kangaroos leave the field after losing the round 2 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Metricon Stadium on March 27, 2021 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

North Melbourne has endured a rough season. Two wins and their coach has been absent for a large portion of the season. However, interim coach Brett Ratten is excited about the weekend after their performance against St Kilda where they nearly got over the line against his old side, but he is hoping to go a step further this time and get a win before Alastair Clarkson returns.

The Kangaroos fell just short of toppling the Saints after a last-quarter surge put the Saints in front, stealing victory from thousands of North fans by just eight points and now Ratten would love the club to be on a high before Clarkson's return.

Ratten spoke with reporters on Wednesday discussing how he feels about the return of Clarkson, the team heading into this weekend as well as how Jack Ziebell will be managed as the end of the season nears.

Ratten detailed the club is looking to find the right balance between its older figures and emerging young names come selection.

"Not sure, we gotta work through that he was out of the team, he actually wasn't going to play but then we lost Zaro (Charlie Lazzaro) with a back spasm and he's probably not gonna come up this week as well but Ziebs (Jack Ziebell) is gonna be interesting," Ratten said

"Do we manage him and give him a spell? His knee has been a little bit sore but it's the one we gotta work through what's the best for the team, where does Jack play a part in that as well?

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 29: Jack Ziebell of the Kangaroos celebrates as the final siren sounds during the 2019 AFL round 15 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Marvel Stadium on June 29, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"It's trying to find the balance, we need balance with some older statesmen in the team also some youth where our future is going, so trying to make sure we get that balance is really important and Jack is in that category but we've got to make sure we've got the best balance for the team."

Ratten has also confirmed that Jy Simpkin will make his return back into the team but will be without Liam Shiels.

"Jy will be back, he's just gotta complete training, Liam will be out with his calf so he won't play, we lose but we get one back," Ratten said.

However, the main point of interest was Ratten's thoughts on Clarkson coming back and if he felt OK with the change happening so late in the season.

"Yeah, all fine, just counting down the days and post the presser on Sunday it will be the finale, I knew what was coming and I have had some real enjoyment but it's been a shame that we've been close but without a victory and we get an opportunity this week to see if we can do something that we wanna do and that is to get a win," Ratten stated

"If we play like how we did last week, we are gonna give ourselves a chance, if we played like the Hawthorn week, we aren't gonna give ourselves any chance, that's the challenge for us.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Alastair Clarkson, Senior Coach of the Kangaroos addresses his team at quarter time during the 2023 AFL Round 02 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Optus Stadium on March 25, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"(Clarkson) has been chipping in ideas for a few weeks probably since the bye, but he has been in the program for the whole week, so he's more out and about, adding his views on things. This week is sort of semi-coaching week and next is the full week."

Before his final game as interim, Ratten claims to be using the Fremantle game from Round 2 this season to be the confidence booster for his team to know they can fly out west and win.

"We played Freo earlier this year and won, that's a positive but that was Round 2 and now we are in Round 20 so there's a big gap there," Ratten said

"Both teams have got great opportunities and it's gonna be who puts their best foot forward and we know last week that if we play that brand of footy and with that appetite we will be right in it and that's what we wanna do."

North Melbourne play West Coast at Optus Stadium at 2:40 pm local time.