North Melbourne manager David Noble has brushed off criticism of the club’s rebuilding from the AFL, telling them the Kangaroos are better off than at this time last year.
Last year’s Wooden Spoons were criticized for a disappointing performance on Good Friday when they were blown out by the Western Bulldogs in the marquee time slot for the second consecutive year.
The 68-point blowout prompted questions about whether the holiday game should be taken away from the Kangaroos.
Noble isn’t happy with the 1-4 start to the season but is confident North is heading in the right direction.
The Kangaroos lost eight straight games to open 2021, showed improvement midway through the season, before ending the campaign with four straight defeats.
“Look a little deeper into some of the numbers,” he said when asked about North’s criticism.
“I think there are measures where we have progressed.
“I understand the discussion, but I think you need to dig a bit deeper into the bigger picture of the five games.
“We’ve made progress and I think it’s too easy to say we haven’t progressed further than where we were last year.
“Progress and improvement are not linear, they don’t go in a straight line.”
North should be boosted by the return of Tarryn Thomas and Cam Zurhaar for Sunday’s clash with a rebounding Geelong in Hobart.
Jed Anderson was hurt after returning via the VFL last week and will be carefully managed after missing most of pre-season.
Veteran midfielder Ben Cunnington has returned to training for more than a month following his battle with testicular cancer.
The popular 30-year-old looks fitter and healthier than he has in some time, but Noble admits building continues to be slow for Cunnington.
“The main thing is always his health and making sure he’s okay,” Noble said.
“When he’s ready, he’s ready – if it’s this year, great, if it’s next, fine too.
“We are in no rush to meet him.
“He looks great, which is great, and he’s back here helping us with leadership meetings and other areas of contribution.
“He still loves the game and misses it, I’m sure, it’s great to have his input.”
Australian Associated Press