Discussions have begun over North Melbourne potentially receiving a priority pick after a start to the season that is “really worrying the AFL”, according to leading reporter Caroline Wilson.
Despite the addition of last year’s No.1 overall pick Jason Horne-Francis, the Kangaroos have won just one of their first six games, with the sole win coming against a West Coast Eagles side that was ravaged by COVID-19 in round two.
North currently sits dead last on the ladder with a lowly percentage of just 60.6 and has been beaten by 60 or more points in three of its last four matches.
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Wilson called on the club to implement a solid long-term plan, revealing the harsh reality the four-time VFL/AFL premiers currently face.
“The priority pick is back firmly on the table,” she told Nine’s Footy Classified.
“They’ve got a lot of issues, North Melbourne, and this is something that is really, really worrying the AFL at the moment.
“What they need is a five-year plan. This is an area the AFL hasn’t been able to fix and under a more brutal administration in a different time, I hate to say it, they’d be in the Gold Coast or Tasmania by now, not that that’s the answer.”
While the club may be after a similar draft package to the one the Gold Coast Suns received in 2019, ex-Fremantle and St Kilda coach Ross Lyon suggested the Roos’ problems were somewhat self-inflicted.
“They’ve got 21 players delisted over the last two years,” he told Footy Classified.
“List managers go, ‘Oh, they can’t play, we’ll just cut them’. I think there should be a maximum amount you can delist because it cruels clubs and exposes their underbelly like we’re seeing with North Melbourne.
“That’s half the list in two seasons. I know why they do it, but now we’re seeing the outcome: a non-competitive AFL team. We’re still finding out about the kids, but they’re around the edges.
“I mean they got rid of a 60-goal key forward in (Ben) Brown. Would he be handy for them at the minute? You’re always trading off the present for the future, but on present form, they’ve cut deep it’s a big climb back.
“Don’t worry about asking for priority picks until you show us in the first quarter that you can have a real dip. That’s what we’re looking at.”
Lyon was backed up by Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd, who suggested that a better way for the AFL to assist struggling clubs would be to allow them additional funding to help hire proven developmental coaches as opposed to gifting them priority picks.
“To me, getting a kid in your door is the last thing,” Lloyd told Footy Classified.
“We talk about priority picks, I’ve seen so many guys go into weak and poor football clubs (and struggle). How many Suns players have we seen over the years go in as highly-talented players and go out the door?
“I’d rather a Mark Williams or a Ross Lyon come into my football club to top up and develop players and harness players. They (players) go into a poor club and they’re spat out the door within four years anyway.
“He’s (Kangaroos coach David Noble) pretty much asking from an AFL team, ‘Can you just compete for a quarter?’, that’s how far they’ve fallen at this point.”