North Melbourne Season Preview – 2015

After a summer of lists and best of’s that generated plenty of discussion, the Mendes boys – Philip and Lucas – return with a comprehensive preview of North’s chances in 2015.


Much greater depth than in previous seasons. North arguably have 30 players who are proven at AFL level.

Youngsters are pushing up – Brown and Turner were impressive last year while Wood, Garner (if over injuries) and Dumont have potential to eventually become regulars.

Coaching and game plan improved significantly in 2014, North no longer gave up big leads, and won most close games.


Injuries – Grima and Mullett will miss much of first half of season, Hansen may not be fit for Round One. Several big key forwards had interrupted pre seasons as well.

Still too reliant on veterans: Harvey, Petrie, Dal Santo and Wells. Recruitment of Waite particularly and Higgins may backfire if they don’t perform.

Have lots of B or B+ players, but lack A-graders who can turn a game with big grabs, fluent switches of play, and long goals.


To progress further:

Ziebell needs to become the elite player North hoped he would become, and have a big influence on lots of games.

McDonald, Turner and Brown need to continue or even exceed their excellent first season form.

Goldstein and Cunnington need to play their best football against good sides.


Best 22 for Round One:

Backs:                  Sam Wright Joel Tippett Lachie Hansen

Half Backs:         Jamie Macmillan Scott Thompson Shaun Atley

Centre:               Daniel Wells Ben Cunnington Nick Dal Santo

Half Forwards:   Shaun Higgins Jarrod Waite Boomer Harvey

Forwards:          Lindsay Thomas Drew Petrie Ben Brown

Rucks:               Todd Goldstein Jack Ziebell Andrew Swallow

Bench:                 Luke McDonald Sam Gibson Ryan Bastinac

Sub:                      Kayne Turner



Explanation of Selections


Tall Backs:

Scott Thompson – Lock.

Lachie Hansen – Was very good last season. Only question is his fitness.

Joel Tippett – Could be the gorilla defender we’ve have been waiting for; has put on six kilograms over the summer.

Next best:

Michael Firrito – Outstanding in 2014, but time for the next group to come through.

Robbie Tarrant – Has teased without delivering consistently for many years. A move into defence is unlikely to change much.

Sam Durdin – A few years away.

Nathan Grima – Injured, and may not get back into the side if Tippett performs well.


Small/Medium Backs:

Sam Wright – Superb finals series.

Jamie Macmillan – Elevated to the leadership group.

Shaun Atley – Still waiting for his breakout year. Could be a match winner the year he moves into the midfield.

Luke Mcdonald – Very solid first year, should continue to improve.

Next best:

Ben Jacobs – Technically good kick, but decision making lets him down. Falls apart under pressure.

Scott McMahon – Solid back up.

Aaron Mullett – Injured, will hope to get back to 2013 form when he returns.



Daniel Wells, Ben Cunnington, Andrew Swallow and Nick Dal Santo all locks in the midfield.

Jack Ziebell – Will 2015 be his year? Possibly his last chance to become a star of the competition. Potential fourth quarter specialist in the forward line.

Sam Gibson – Sprays the ball, but if you get it as much as he does it doesn’t matter.

Ryan Bastinac – Very disappointing last year after an impressive 2013. Deserves another chance, but a few more lacklustre performances and he has to go.

Next best:

Brad McKenzie – Similar to Jacobs. Lacks penetration in the forward half.

Trent Dumont – 23rd man for us, we would bring him straight in if Bastinac doesn’t perform over the first five rounds. Versatile and was very good in the VFL last year.


Tall Forwards:

Drew Petrie – Lock.

Jarrad Waite – Not convinced, but has the potential to be very good if he stays disciplined.

Ben Brown – What a revelation! Hopefully he keeps it up.

Next best:

Aaron Black – He was clearly injured last year after a brilliant 2013. Would be a shame for him to be left out of the side behind a 32 year old.

Mason Wood – Wood love to see him play. But probably has to Waite for the two big forwards to retire.


Small/Medium Forwards:

Boomer Harvey– Just keeps getting better.

Shaun Higgins – Looked very impressive in the Roos’ opening NAB Challenge hit-out. Played his best footy for the Bulldogs up forward.

Lindsay Thomas – Lock.

Kayne Turner – First class tackling and pressure. Will need to be managed due to his light frame, but provides spark up forward.

Next best:

Leigh Adams – Seemed to be past his best last year.

Taylor Garner – Still half a season in the VFL away. Could be a future match winner.

Kieran Harper – See above. Running out of time.



Todd Goldstein – Lock.

Next best:

Daniel Currie and Majak Daw – Ben Brown is streets ahead of them as second ruck or third forward. Currie is good backup for Goldy if he gets injured/rested.



Rooboys and Roogirls; how did the Mendes lads go with their preview of Norf’s set up for 2015? Are they being a bit harsh on Ryan Bastinac? Does Majak get another chance as back-up to Todd Goldstein? Have they underrated the potential contribution from Jarrad Waite or does his form with injury warrant caution? Share your thoughts below.


About Philip Mendes

Philip Mendes is an academic who follows AFL, soccer, tennis and cricket. He supported Fitzroy Football Club from 1970-1996, and on their death he adopted the North Melbourne Kangaroos as his new team. In his spare time, he occasionally writes about his current and past football teams.


  1. Some interesting observations there, Phil.

    For what it’s worth, I reckon our problems commence with the key defensive positions. Whilst Scott Thompson can be very good, he can also have real shockers and be taken apart by the gorillas (e.g. T Cloke last year). N Grima is just about done and dusted, whilst R Tarrant may never be any good unfortunately.
    Pinning one’s hopes on Joel Tippett makes me extremely nervous, because I get the feeling he could even be more fragile than his brother!

  2. Philip Mendes says

    Smokie – yes that is the worry. Still have nightmares over Tom Hawkin’s last quarter in the first semi final. At the moment they have to at least try Tippett as no obvious alternative. But clearly they drafted Durdin and the other youngsters to fill that role long-term.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    Why haven’t we head from you blokes before? Good writing. Harsh on Jack – he is a star now. If he stays fit, tazz maybe the answer to our problems in defence. If. can’t have Waite – he’s a carlton reject and now he’s our problem. Black is frustrating but a better option. And I like the look of Wood. Harsh on Grima and Adams. The former had had to play on big forwards when he shouldn’t and the latter has been injured. Four yrs for Higgins is a mystery, particularly when they gave up Levi.

    Overall, I’m happy with the sounds coming out of Arden St this summer. There’s a maturity and patience about the club on the back of two finals wins. With alot of our boys going under the knife after 2014, the turtoise approach is pleasing.

  4. Lucas Lewit-Mendes says

    Thanks for the response Andrew.

    If you classify a star as top 50 in the comp, Ziebs is still well off, but he added another dimension to his game last year. If he can combine goals with consistency, he could be a the A grader we’ve been waiting for.

    I think Tarrant has been tried and tested, while Grima is injured for much of the season. Tippett deserves a chance.

    I agree that Black is a very good player when fit. Toss up between him and Waite, who could either brilliant or awful. Wood has plenty of talent as well, but probably isn’t ready to play ahead of the above two.

    Disappointing to lose Greenwood, though we didn’t really need him as well as Ziebs, Cunnington and Swallow. I’m actually confident Higgo will be useful with his versatility, though 4 years is too much with his injury history. Waite is also injury prone, and old! Hopefully they don’t deprive the youngsters of opportunities.

  5. Nice work Mendeses,

    while I wouldn’t personally have Hansen in round 1 given his preseason, he’s undoubtedly best 22. Not many quibbles with your other ratings either. Similarly I’d expect Black and/or Wood to play ahead of Brown for the time being while he gets some match conditioning into him. Tend to agree with Starkie that you’ve underrated JZ a bit.

    And Editors: do we really need to go with “Norf” on the Almanac? Isn’t that better left for Other Places?

  6. Malcolm Ashwood says

    As a Norwood supporter I really rate Trent Dumont ( I hope the full story re the taxi driver comes out ) he debuted at half back and by the end of the season was very influential on ball and had a fantastic GF , he is more than ready and capable of doing exactly the same at afl level

  7. Lucas Lewit-Mendes says

    @Rob C

    I agree there is a question mark over Brown for round 1 after a very quiet NAB1, although we need him as second ruck. Hansen may also be left out for Taz in round 1.

    @Malcolm Ashwood

    Hopefully we get to see plenty of Dumont this season. Your description of him in VFL sounds very promising.

  8. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Lucas I was talking about , Trent in the Sanfl

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