Stephenson flagged for Roos midfield role

Shayne Hope
·2-min read

North Melbourne have flagged the possibility of shifting recruit Jaidyn Stephenson into the midfield to utilise the former Collingwood livewire's speed and X-factor.

Stephenson kicked 76 goals in 54 AFL games for the Magpies and snared the 2018 Rising Star award as a dangerous small forward.

He was forced out of Collingwood during the trade period and accepted a five-year deal with the Kangaroos, who are eager to make best use of the 21-year-old's versatility.

Since leaving the Magpies, Stephenson hired a personal trainer in a bid to add muscle to his frame and prepare for a big pre-season campaign.

North list manager Scott Clayton has had a keen eye on Stephenson since the young gun starred as an inside midfielder in underage football.

"I'd love to see him back in the midfield as an inside-outside mid and some wingman stuff," Clayton told SEN.

"But clearly there's always the draw to take him forward because he's so dangerous.

"The new coach will have a lot to do with that but I think he's flexible enough and multi-tasked players now are becoming more valuable.

"I wouldn't underestimate where he could go.

"We didn't bring him in for that (midfield) specifically but there's no doubt that one of the things that we are after is excitement, he has that, and we want some speed and players that can carry the ball."

Stephenson on Monday backed Collingwood assistant Robert Harvey to take over as North's senior coach, after Rhyce Shaw's departure last month for personal reasons.

St Kilda legend Harvey and Brisbane football manager David Noble are believed to be contenders, with the tight-lipped Kangaroos set to make an appointment by the end of the month.

West Coast assistant Jaymie Graham had been linked to the job but on Monday reaffirmed his commitment to the Eagles for 2021.

"I did have a conversation with North Melbourne," Graham said.

"While I was flattered by the call to sound me out about going through the interview process, I am committed to the club and the playing group at the Eagles.

"We have some work to do and I'm keen to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in as we strive to close the gap on Richmond and others who finished above us."