Who should stay and who should go? A reflection on Robbo’s list of 23 uncontracted Kangaroos

By Philip Mendes and Lucas Lewit-Mendes


Last week, Herald Sun journalist Mark Robinson expressed his view (‘On the Hopping Block’, 12 August) on which of their currently 23 uncontracted players North Melbourne should retain for 2021. He argued that only seven players in Jed Anderson, Kyron Hayden, Bailey Scott, Curtis Taylor, Kayne Turner, Josh Walker and Will Walker definitely deserved further contracts. Here we present a contrary viewpoint to Robbo.



Jed Anderson – struggled in his first two years after North gave up a first round draft pick to secure him in a trade with Hawthorn. Not the strongest kick in the world, but a tackling gun, and arguably the heart of the team.


Ben Brown – there is a lot of media speculation about the merits of North trading Brown for a high draft pick given his very poor form in 2020. But this speculation omits a number of countervailing facts. Firstly, North already have two first round draft picks for 2021. This is already a heavily compromised draft due to priority, academy and first generation picks. Thirdly, Brown had an outstanding three years kicking 60 or more goals in each season from 2017-19. It is easy to forget he nailed 10 goals as recently as round 22, 2019 against Port Adelaide. You don’t give up a gun player unless you get an offer you can’t refuse. Finally, replacing Brown with a similar tall forward would be very hard given top key position players are notoriously difficult to identify at a young age. For every success story there is a Paddy McCartin or Luke Livingstone as a precautionary warning.


Joel Crocker – son of former player Darren. Very raw and still to play a senior game. May be worth another year to see if he progresses.


Majak Daw – turned his career around in 2018 and became a top intercepting defender. Has had a terrible run with injury since that time, but definitely worth a spot on the list given his ability to play back, forward or in the ruck.


Kyron Hayden – suffered a terrible injury on debut in 2019, but has shown steady improvement in his eight games this year. He is competitive but can butcher the ball. He might be like another Mitch Robinson who improves over time.


Lachie Hosie – a light mid-sized forward who arrived in the mid season draft last year. Has played only two games this year, but seems to have reasonable football nous. Worth another year.


Bailey Scott – the talented youngster who received a Rising Star nomination on debut in round one of 2019. He was injured for much of 2019, but has impressed in eight games this year. Has a unique ability to evade tacklers at pace in the mould of Jy Simpkin, Callum Brown and Lachie Neale.


Curtis Taylor – a talented high mark and goal kicker who showed really promising signs before injury interrupted his season.


Kayne Turner – he made a big impact on debut as a skinny 18 year old in 2014. Has mainly played as a defensive forward since that time, but his contribution is invaluable to the team plan.


Ed Vickers-Willis – a solid defender who has only played 16 games in six seasons due to injury. Deserves a spot in the team if he can stay fit.


Josh Walker – Walker is at his third club after stints at Geelong and Brisbane. Has played every game mostly as a key defender plus some periods up forward. Been a good contributor; his contested marking has been important.


Will Walker – he has played only six games in three years due to injury, but has shown signs of potential.


Paul Ahern – he was originally a number 7 national draft pick by GWS, but experienced two knee reconstructions. Arrived at North in 2017 and played some very good football in 2018. Seems to be out of favour since then, perhaps due to a lack of pace. But he’s still only 24 years old so he may be worth one more year.



Sam Durdin – a first round draft pick and tall defender who has played only 21 games in six years due to injury and average form. Does not seem to have the vigour or skill to play regularly at this level.


Taylor Garner – is a similar player to Jamie Elliott from Collingwood. First round draft pick in 2012, but has only played 43 games in 8 seasons mainly due to injury. His best is very good, as shown by big grabs and multiple goal scoring in 2015 and 2017. He was one of North’s best players in the first half of the close final against Richmond in 2015, but is hardly ever fit to play.


Ben Jacobs – a top tagger at his best, but has not appeared at AFL level since mid-2018 due to severe head injuries affecting his balance. He will almost certainly retire.


Jamie Macmillan – he has played 168 games as a reliable and composed mid-sized defender. But Macmillan has been dropped a number of times this year. Perhaps at 29 years old he has played his best football.


Jasper Pittard – showed some good signs in 2019, but has mostly been disappointing in 2020 and his disposal is poor. At 29 years old his time may be up.


Mason Wood – a classic enigma who plays one or two very good games each year, but otherwise is very injury prone, and seems to play with little passion or aggression. After 61 games in 7 years, he doesn’t seem to be getting any better.


Borderline/to be confirmed

Matt McGuiness – first year rookie, so hard to judge.


Tom Murphy – a medium defender who has only played 6 games in 3 years on the list. Would only keep him to maintain depth.


Tristan Xerri – a raw big man who made his debut this season. He has a long way to go, but is only 21 years old, and may be worth persevering with.


Marley Williams – in his 4th season at North after crossing from Collingwood. Was good in 2018, but disappointing since then. Is committed to winning the ball, but too often his disposal lets him down. He may need to stay on the list for defensive depth.



After an awful season, it’s easy to call for a “rebuild” and a clear out of senior players. But this year has only proved how disheartening that can be, as a disastrously long injury list has thrown North’s youngsters into the deep end. Perhaps North’s list management error has been the decision to recruit Pittard and Williams, rather than drafting a half-back with a high pick. With a modern game built around scoring from turnovers, skilled half-backs are as important as any position, and this should be a priority for the 2020 draft.



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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. Funny, old mate Jasper Pittard used to kick the pill to the opposition when he played for Port Adelaide!! Why did North not know about this obvious defect in his play?

  2. matt watson says

    It’s easy when the team is performing poorly to put a line through a lot of players.
    North’s list is average, but injuries haven’t helped.
    We need depth and young talent.
    Agree with the delistings above. Others will be moved on too.
    We need speed and skill.
    Just a couple of players…

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    Ed and Will to go as well, Phillip.

    Club needs to commit to rebuild and a few years of pain.

    Things are good off-field now, so can afford to drop down.

  4. This is an interesting discussion, Lewis & Phillip. And one in which my North mates and I have engaged in via text in recent weeks.
    I believe (and hope) that the woeful performance in the Melbourne match was our nadir.
    A statement was made at selection last week (6 changes), and the performance was much better against a top 4 team in Brisbane.
    My thoughts, for what they are worth: Garner and Jacobs must go. It is a tough business, and a sad situation for these guys, but North need to stop playing Mr Nice Guy and de-list players who never get on the park. No club can afford to carry these types. Through no fault of his own, this is the same reason that Vickers-Willis should only be given a one-year deal.
    Mason Wood will not play again. He had some trade cache a couple of years ago, but no-one will pick him now. He just cannot get the footy.
    Tom Campbell? Surely there are plenty of young ruckman with potential who would offer more. They are out there, they just need to be found.
    Macmillan has been a loyal servant, but must be farewelled. I reckon I am with you on Pittard. He is just no good, but they will probably keep him on. I also agree with your thoughts on Durdin. A most disappointing high draft pick.
    Xerri must be kept on in the interests of development. Majak will be kept on, but I now have no faith that he will ever again reach the heights of 2018. He will be a back-up at best.
    Ahern is far too slow. He is on my de-list list.
    Apart from that, I largely agree with your thoughts.

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