North Melbourne 2022 preview: Season predictions for the Kangaroos

SEASON PREVIEW: A star is about to be born at North Melbourne and, for the first time in years, there is genuine hope at Arden St. Are the Roos on the verge of being an AFL force?

Many predicted North Melbourne to finish with the wooden spoon in 2021 — and many turned out to be correct.

Although, and with apologies to former Carlton coach Brendon Bolton, there were some green shoots to come from a challenging year.

The Roos were able to arrest a horrendous start to the year, when they lost their first four games by an average of 70 points, to finish with four wins.

It doesn’t sound like much, but, with a new kid in Jason Horne-Francis in town and high expectations of their improving young guns, is North Melbourne set for a Noble rise in 2022?

Nick Smart probes the Roos’ hopes.

Captain Jack will lead a young Roos group on 2022. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Captain Jack will lead a young Roos group on 2022. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

Coach: David Noble

Captain: Jack Ziebell

WHERE DO THEY FINISH IN 2022?

The Roos’ rebuild is set to take some time, and after 2021 they’d be looking at chalking up six to nine wins next year. Avoiding a second successive wooden spoon will be their first priority, and there was enough to suggest in the back-end of 2021 that they should be able to achieve that off the back of the development of the likes of Tarryn Thomas, Luke Davies-Uniacke and Nick Larkey coupled with the talent of Jy Simpkin, Tom Powell and Cam Zurhaar. Not to mention the shock last-minute acquisition of Hugh Greenwood from Gold Coast this month. Although, the loss of defender Robbie Tarrant to Richmond has to sting and sting hard.

Prediction: Bottom four.

BIGGEST IMPROVER

After showing promising signs in his debut season, youngster Will Phillips will be set for a big 2022. The man wearing the famous No.29 of club legend Brent ‘Boomer’ Harvey played 16 games in his debut season after being snapped up at pick No.3 in the 2020 national draft. He showed good signs in his debut season, but there is still huge upside and a big summer in the gym should see him reach new heights in 2022. One to watch in 2022.

Can Will Phillips take a big step in 2022? Picture: Michael Klein
Can Will Phillips take a big step in 2022? Picture: Michael Klein

X-FACTOR

He hasn’t played a senior game yet, but there is already plenty of buzz circling around No.1 pick Jason Horne-Francis, who respected recruiter Scott Clayton recently labelled “as good as any No.1 in years.” It comes off the back of an outstanding 20-game season in the SANFL. In the preliminary final against Glenelg, he kicked three goals from 24 disposals, which included 18 contested possessions, 11 clearances, 10 score involvements and 160 Champion Data ranking points. It is little wonder why the Roos reportedly knocked back two mammoth rival-club offers for its Pick 1. Known for a fearless attack on the ball in the style of a young Mark Ricciuto, Horne-Francis will have every chance to push for a Round 1 debut.

Jason Horne-Francis is the talk of the town at North Melbourne. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images
Jason Horne-Francis is the talk of the town at North Melbourne. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

COACH STATUS

It was a shaky start for new coach David Noble in 2021. The first two months of the season were horrid and at one stage people were wondering whether the Roos might go for the year without notching up a win. But victory did come in Round 9, and they’d go on to record another three wins for the year. The second half of the season was far more promising as players started to get their head around Noble’s game plan and they began to hit the scoreboard more consistently. Noble is on a rolling contract rather than a fixed deal and needs his side to show some tangible improvement in 2022. Still safe, but he wouldn’t want another bottom placed finish.

David Noble has won great respect at the Roos. Picture: Getty Images
David Noble has won great respect at the Roos. Picture: Getty Images

OUT OF CONTRACT

Aaron Hall, Bailey Scott, Ben Cunnington, Cameron Zurhaar, Charlie Lazzaro, Curtis Taylor, Eddie Ford, Flynn Perez, Jed Anderson, Joshua Walker, Kayne Turner, Kyron Hayden, Matthew McGuinness, Patrick Walker, Tarryn Thomas, Todd Goldstein, Tom Powell, Tristan Xerri, Will Phillips

INS FOR 2022

Callum Coleman-Jones (traded – Richmond), Hugh Greenwood (delisted free agent), Jason Horne-Francis (pick one), Josh Goater (22), Paul Curtis (35), Miller Bergman (38), Jackson Archer (59)

Jy Simpkin raised his game to the elite level in 2021. Picture: Michael Klein
Jy Simpkin raised his game to the elite level in 2021. Picture: Michael Klein

OUTS FROM 2021

Shaun Atley (delisted), Tom Campbell (delisted), Trent Dumont (delisted), Taylor Garner (delisted), Charlie Ham (delisted), Connor Menadue (delisted), Robbie Tarrant (traded – Richmond), Dom Tyson (delisted), Will Walker (delisted)

FIRST SIX GAMES AND HOW MANY THEY WIN

Rd 1: Hawthorn @ MCG (W)

Rd 2: West Coast @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 3: Brisbane@ The Gabba (L)

Rd 4: Sydney @ SCG (L)

Rd 5: Western Bulldogs @ Marvel Stadium (L)

Rd 6: Geelong @ Blundstone Arena (L)

Prediction: 1 win, 5 losses

BEST 22 IN ‘22

B: Jack Ziebell, Ben McKay, Kayne Turner

HB: Aaron Hall, Aidan Corr, Aiden Bonar

C: Jaidyn Stephenson, Jy Simpkin, Hugh Greenwood

HF: Jason Horne-Francis, Nick Larkey, Tarryn Thomas

F: Cam Zurhaar, Callum Coleman-Jones, Curtis Taylor

FOLL: Todd Goldstein, Ben Cunnington, Luke Davies-Uniacke

I/C: Luke McDonald, Tom Powell, Jed Anderson, Will Phillips

Tim Elbra
Tim ElbraDeputy editor

Tim Elbra is the deputy editor of CODE. He started out as a reporter at The Daily Telegraph in 2003 and has also worked for mX, NRL.com, Fox Sports, AthletesVoice and Nine's Wide World of Sports. Tim was one of those kids who played every sport he possibly could while growing up and you’ll find him writing about a broad range of sports on this site. He’s never met a sport he doesn’t like and outside of footy, cricket and tennis, has a passion for snowboarding, bodyboarding, scuba diving and hiking. He’s still waiting, impatiently, for the Parramatta Eels to win another premiership.

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