North Melbourne faces an interesting trade period with a number of uncontracted forwards interested in pursuing their careers elsewhere or unhappy with offers put on the table.
It was revealed that Cruize Garlett had turned his back on a one-year contract extension offered to him by North, opting to seek out a new home for next year after playing only 32 games in five seasons. If a trade is not reached, Garlett will take his chances come draft time.
Garlett’s decision comes on the back of tall forward Lachie Hansen’s dissatisfaction with the contract offered to him. Hansen’s 20 goals in the final 12 games of the season helped him become an integral part of North Melbourne’s forward line, combining with tall forwards Drew Petrie and Robbie Tarrant for a total of 101 goals over the course of the season.
Offers from Greater Western Sydney and Fremantle have reportedly been put on the table in order to secure the services of Hansen.
Forwards Aaron Edwards, Ben Warren and Ben McKinley are all out of contract. While it has been speculated that Warren and McKinley will be delisted if new homes are not found, Edwards’ 17 goals in nine games should see him receive a contract extension.
Ruckman Hamish McIntosh is likely to join Geelong while Cameron Pedersen, winner of Werribee’s best and fairest award in the VFL this season, is firmly on Melbourne’s radar.
Garlett aside, some serious height is sure to be taken out of a powerful North Melbourne side. In their rise up the ladder over the second half of the season, the focal point of the Kangaroos was the forward line.
Although Drew Petrie, Robbie Tarrant and Lindsay Thomas will all feature in the team next season, losing all of Ben Warren, Ben McKinley, Cameron Pedersen and Cruise Garlett is sure to take its toll on what was a damaging forward line in 2012.
When you factor in that the only other Kangaroo forwards over 190cms, aside from Lachie Hansen, are Aaron Black and Ayden Kennedy, both nearing 22 and 21 years of age respectively, there isn’t a whole lot to fall back on.
Playing as the dominant ruckman all season, Todd Goldstein kicked only two goals for the year. With one of Hamish McIntosh’s feet already out the door, the next best ruck option is Majak Daw.
Although athletic, Daw is still yet to show any consistency in the VFL, despite being upgraded to the club’s senior list after three years on the rookie list. Physically, Daw is fit and agile enough to perform at the top level, though his use of the football leaves a lot to be desired. As a secondary ruckman, his reliability in front of goals is questionable.
At 200cm, Ben Mabon is the only other ruckman currently on the Kangaroos’ list. Most clubs sport two ruckman that can each rest in the forward line and kick goals, but it seems that this may not be an option for the Kangaroos next year.
North Melbourne’s first pick in the 2012 National Draft comes at pick 14 with its second selection coming at pick 35. Although there will be plenty of potential options with both of these picks, chances are the Roos will need to use both selections to bolster the dwindling forward stocks.
This isn’t necessarily an issue for the Kangaroos, hosting a number of great defenders and one of the best young midfields in the competition. Typically, the best midfielders are selected over the best forwards come draft time, so there will be a number of good tall forwards left to choose from.
Mason Shaw from South Fremantle is sure to be in North Melbourne’s sights. As a 17-year-old, Shaw kicked seven goals in the WAFL Under-18 Grand Final in 2011. One year on, Shaw’s five goals in another successful Grand Final for South Fremantle’s colts has him on many teams’ radars.
Registering a score of 14 in the beep test, his endurance is another trick to add to a bag that also contains strong overhead marking and unteachable football smarts. Shaw is a must-get player if he is still available at pick 14, as it has been speculated that Fremantle will scoop him up with its pick 16 otherwise.
However, if North takes a gamble on the best available midfielder or defender with its first selection and injury strikes down one of the prominent forwards, a gaping hole is left to be exposed by the opposition.
Their first two draft selections should be used on acquiring the best possible young forwards or traded for senior bodies that can mark and goal.
The Kangaroos are walking a fine line. Although the top-tier forward line is very easy on the eye, what comes next is not quite as impressive.