North coach backs AFL veteran to play on

Michael Ramsey
Kangaroo Scott Thompson (L) has been backed to play his 12th season as he starred against the Suns

North Melbourne coach Brad Scott has backed Scott Thompson to play on for a 12th AFL season after the key defender starred in the Kangaroos' win over Gold Coast.

Thompson had a game-high 31 disposals and nine marks on Sunday as the Roos cruised past the fading Suns for a 14.11 (95) to 8.10 (58) victory at Etihad Stadium.

The 32-year-old Thompson is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and would be well aware that list management can be an unsentimental business.

Brent Harvey, Nick Dal Santo and Drew Petrie are among the veterans North has parted ways with in recent years and injury-prone Jarrad Waite is no certainty to play on next year.

Scott on Sunday said Thompson remained a valuable contributor whose presence down back had helped Majak Daw to settle into a defensive post.

"Robbie Tarrant and Scotty Thompson are a huge reason why Majak's able to play the role that he plays and Scotty Thompson is a massive reason why Sam Durdin and Ben McKay are ready-made AFL key defenders," Scott said.

"They'll get their opportunity at some point. But the opportunity to have the Tarrant-Thompson veterans there who can educate the young players is just enormous for us.

"And it helps that he's playing well."

Dynamic big man Daw switched roles in the second half and caused all sorts of headaches up forward, snaring two majors.

The 195cm livewire is capable of playing in multiple positions but Scott said he would likely remain a defender first.

"Probably the challenge for us this year is to settle him down," Scott said.

"We wanted to issue the challenge to him at the start of the year to nail down a key defensive post and we were always going to give him the opportunity to do that. And he's done it.

"So the risk is that we know he can play in the ruck, we know he can play forward - we just don't want to get him to a point where he's being thrown all over the place and he can't settle in one position.

"But when the game dictates a need for change, it's nice to know that we can do it."