'Substantially untrue': Kangaroos coach hits back amid AFL nightmare

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·Sports Reporter
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Kangaroos coach David Noble says rumours of tension between he and his players are off the mark.
Kangaroos coach David Noble has slammed suggestions there is a rift between himself and the playing group, labelling them 'substantially untrue'. Pictures: Getty Images

Embattled North Melbourne coach David Noble has hit back at rumours swirling around the club's culture after the Kangaroos endured an exodus of high performance staff on Wednesday.

Amid continuing reports of tension between the playing group and Noble, the Kangaroos have seen recruitment officer Ben Birthisiel, as well as national recruiting manager Mark Finnigan and head of player personnel Glenn Luff walk out the door.

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Luff, the latest in the list of departures, reportedly called it quits after he was personally called out by former Port Adelaide star Kane Cornes when he was discussing the Kangaroos' season from hell on Channel 9 earlier this week.

In addition to reports players have been unhappy with the coach, prized number one draft pick Jason Horne-Francis has put off discussions on a contract extension.

The club denied they had punished the teenager over a trip back home to Adelaide he took without the club's knowledge, with their concerns only in relation to a potential random drug test he could have been called upon to do while away from the club.

Two-time North Melbourne premiership captain Wayne Carey said the Kangaroos were at the 'lowest this footy club’s been since I can remember' in comments to 7News, prompting Noble to hit back at the rumours that have plagued his second year coaching the team.

“I took this job on understanding that there will be difficult times. I’m here for the long haul,” Noble said.

“I want our club to be successful and strong and all the things that get misreported outside are just not true.

“Relationship with players, relationship with coaches, I was directed by the club to apologise - they are all untrue. Substantially untrue. I wish people would stop reporting them, because they’re not true.

“I don’t know how many times I have to say our players are engaged, our players are moving forward."

North Melbourne hanging tough amidst AFL season from hell

With just one win from their opening 10 games, Kangaroos fans have thus far been disappointed by the lack of progress shown by the side.

Winning just four games in 2021 to win the wooden spoon, the Kangaroos appear to be on track to make it two in a row unless something drastically changes.

Carey told 7News that the departures of key staff mid-season was a massive red flag as far as North Melbourne's rebuild was concerned.

“I think for me it’s all about communication. I don’t think - from senior positions right down to the players - they’re all on the same page," he said.

“I don’t think they are being completely honest with themselves because you can’t improve until you actually acknowledge that we are broken.

“There is too much going on. You don’t have people just resigning for no reason.”

North Melbourne veteran Jack Ziebell will play his 250th game for North Melbourne this weekend as the club battles an internal crisis. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
North Melbourne veteran Jack Ziebell will play his 250th game for North Melbourne this weekend as the club battles an internal crisis. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

North Melbourne CEO Ben Amarfio joined Noble at Thursday's press conference.

He reiterated that the club was prepared to face all challenges ahead, backing in Noble and declaring the club's doors were always open for former players like Carey.

“This is a high-performance industry. We wouldn’t be doing our job if we weren’t challenging each other,” Amarfio said.

“Whether it’s Wayne Carey or whoever, they were great Shinboners and that invitation to come into the club is open to all former players.

“We’d love you to come into the club, be part of the solution and help us through it.”

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