One footy fan's snapshot of Nathan Buckley walking down the street with North Melbourne boss Ben Amarfio on Friday has briefly sent the AFL world into overdrive.
Former Collingwood coach Buckley's sighting with the Kangaroos CEO caught the attention of many fans curious as to how interested he might be in a return to the AFL coaching ranks.
North Melbourne parted ways with besieged coach David Noble earlier this week after the club collapsed to a 14th consecutive loss last weekend.
With a serious rebuilding project on the cards after several uncompetitive seasons in a row, Amarfio was quick to rule Buckley out of any potential link to North Melbourne.
“Nathan has zero interest in coaching. I knew that before our walk," Amarfio told the Herald Sun.
Though Buckley had made it clear in earlier comments that he had no interest in coaching any team next season, he left the door open for a potential coaching return in 2024.
In a conversation on Fox Sports program Best On Ground back in May, Buckley said he had been enjoying an escape from the pressure cooker environment of AFL coaching.
Additionally, he said he was feeling confident in his work in the media so far this season, something the 49-year-old seemed reluctant to walk away from.
— 7AFL (@7AFL) July 15, 2022
“Nup. I won’t be coaching next year. I’m enjoying it on this couch too much,” Buckley said.
“Right now, having had the time out of the game and enjoyed the space that I’ve been in with Fox and SEN without the stress and pressure of coaching, I’ve actually really enjoyed myself and the situations I’ve found myself in.
“I don’t feel the need to bring that stress back into my life at this point.
“If I don’t have that in my heart then I can’t do it for myself first and foremost, but I wouldn’t be doing the right thing by an organisation walking in if you were three-quarters ready.
“I can’t see myself doing it next year.”
North Melbourne great urges Alastair Clarkson to consider Kangaroos
North Melbourne legend Malcolm Blight believes the Kangaroos' list is ready for Alastair Clarkson to rocket the AFL club into premiership contention.
Blight's bold call comes after North on Tuesday sacked coach David Noble following less than two seasons in the job.
The Kangaroos will now attempt to lure Clarkson to Arden St after the four-time Hawthorn premiership coach sat out this season following his exit from the Hawks at the end of 2021.
After finishing ninth in 2018, North have finished 12th, 17th, 18th and are on track for back-to-back wooden spoons as they search for their fourth head coach during that period.
But Blight, who starred in North's 1975 and 1977 premierships, believes there are genuine reasons for optimism despite the gloomy outlook for the embattled club.
The Australian Football Hall of Fame legend has labelled the likes of Jy Simpkin, Luke Davies-Uniacke and Nick Larkey as players who the Kangaroos can rebuild around.
"This is the sixth year of a rebuild. Something's wrong," Blight told Sportsday SA.
"But if I was picking a team now and I had a choice of which teams I would coach, you know which team I would coach? North Melbourne.
"If I'm Alastair Clarkson, (former St Kilda and Fremantle coach) Ross Lyon, (ex-Adelaide coach) Don Pyke or anyone out there, I would be taking this team on now.
"I reckon you've got seven really, really good young players coming into their prime and they'll get a first-rounder again (in the draft) and they may even get (a priority pick).
"If Alastair Clarkson is looking for a team he can coach a premiership to, and that's what he wants to do again, to say the Hawthorn experience wasn't a fluke, that's in his own words.
"They're already there, they're in year five and six, they're coming."
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