NORTH Melbourne fans have been urged to be patient in the wake of a scathing analysis of the club’s list by former Richmond and Western Bulldogs coach Terry Wallace.
Wallace labelled the Kangaroos’ list the “least talented” in the competition and said the club had little reason to be optimistic about what lay ahead in 2018.
North Melbourne finished 15th on the ladder this year with just six wins after making finals the previous three seasons and has waved goodbye to experienced players Andrew Swallow (retired), Sam Gibson (Adelaide), Lindsay Thomas (delisted) and Aaron Mullett (Carlton) so far this off-season.
Wallace’s comments echo the assessment of former Hawthorn recruiter Gary Buckenara, who wrote in a heraldsun.com.au column last month that the Roos are 10 years away from challenging for a premiership.
“They have got the least talented list at the moment in the competition, bar none,” Wallace said on SEN radio.
“I’ve got to give credit to their coaching staff last year, because for what they’re putting on the park and what performances they put in, they were far more competitive than what I thought they could possibly be.
“It is going to be a real battle and a real struggle. I know the way they go about it is very professional, so they’ll want to fight the fight, but I think this is one fight they cannot really get a hold of.”
Former Melbourne captain Garry Lyon said today fortunes could change quickly, but North Melbourne’s under-23 players would have to step up and prove themselves next year.
“They’ll need to be patient but things can change and change quickly and that’s been demonstrated at the very, very top end in recent times,” Lyon said on SEN radio.
“North Melbourne looked like the Brisbane three-peat side compared to where Melbourne were about five or six years ago. So it gets back to making the most of your opportunity when you’re down and that’s reflecting wisely and trading wisely and all those sort of things.
“Opportunity’s going to be extended to players, 18-20-year-olds, like (Jy) Simpkin, (Ryan) Clarke, (Ben) McKay, (Declan) Mountford, (Josh) Williams, (Declan) Watson, (Nick) Larkey. Then the 21-23 year olds — Luke McDonald, (Taylor) Garner, (Braydon) Preuss, (Ed) Vickers-Willis, (Sam) Durdin, (Nathan) Hrovat, (Trent) Dumont, (Kayne) Turner, (Jed) Anderson, (Mitchell) Hibberd. This is where the improvement’s going to have to come.
“They’ve done what a lot of sides have to do. They’ve thrown all their future hopes in this group of players who have to build and develop and time will tell.”
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott signed a two-year contract extension in August, tying him to the club until at least the end of 2020.
At the time, Kangaroos chairman Ben Buckley said the club was confident Scott could bring more success during his tenure.
“The renewal and extension of Brad’s contract is a key plank in putting us on the path to a successful and sustainable team, which we hope will be competing in the finals in the next three- to five-year period,” Buckley said.