AFL great's 'wake-up call' for Kangaroos in pursuit of coaching legend

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Luke Hodge is pictured on the left, with the North Melbourne Kangaroos pictured walking off the field on the right.
Former AFL premiership player Luke Hodge says North Melbourne must make significant off-field changes if they hope to lure Alastair Clarkson to the club. Pictures: Getty Images

It's been a tumultuous week in a tumultuous AFL season for North Melbourne, after the club parted ways with head coach David Noble earlier in the week.

Noble's fate was all but sealed after the Kangaroos lost their last 14 matches in a row, with attention now turning to who could potentially help the battling club revive their fortunes.

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Leigh Adams has taken over as interim coach, but several big names have already been floated as potential candidates for the full time position from 2023.

North Melbourne's dire record over the past few seasons would indicate whoever does take the job will be in for a long-term rebuild of the playing list.

The club's last finals appearance came back in 2015 under Brad Scott, who earned the unfornate history of coaching the most games without making a grand final during his 10 years with the Kangaroos.

The likes of four-time premiership coach with Hawthorn, Alastair Clarkson, has frequently been brought up as someone who could help the ailing club reverse several seasons of misfortune, however Hawks great Luke Hodge was warned such a move won't be all roses.

Hodge said the Kangaroos would need to make substantial changes to their operations off-field if they hoped to lure the highly-regarded coach out of retirement.

“I’ve always been a big believer in ‘stability off-field helps stability on-field,’ and that is not a stable off field,” Hodge told SEN.

“If they want to go and land a big bloke like Clarko, they need to make some moves off-field to show that there is support there for him, that if he does have a bad 12 months of developing, as he did in his second year at Hawthorn, he doesn’t have to worry about his job.

“If the media do hit up North Melbourne for poor performances, he needs to know that they’re not going to react because there are a few articles or a few stories written about him. He might (have to) handle a few bombs from the media occasionally, but (he needs to know that) they’re not going to wither away or faulter because of that noise.”

North Melbourne part ways with head coach David Noble amid disastrous season

Kangaroos legend Malcolm Blight however, believes the Kangaroos' list is ready for Clarkson to rocket the AFL club into premiership contention.

North won just five out of 38 games during Noble's tenure, punctuated by a 14-match losing streak.

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.

Former North Melbourne coach David Noble is pictured.
The AFL world has shown sympathy for David Noble, after he stepped down as coach of North Melbourne on Tuesday morning. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"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."

North president Sonja Hood refused to comment on Tuesday when asked if the club had already sounded out Clarkson.

The former Hawks supremo has already met with GWS about taking their taking their vacant head coaching role next season.

"I am not even going to speculate on it," Hood said.

With AAP

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