North Melbourne coach Dean Laidley says he will not tolerate a repeat of the lack of intensity shown by his players in Sunday’s thrashing by Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium.
The reigning AFL premiers notched their first victory of the season in style, with winners all over the ground, led by a 37-disposal game from skipper Sam Mitchell, as they belted the Kangaroos 19.9 (123) to 10.9 (69).
Laidley gave credit to the Hawks but was scathing of his own side’s performance, saying he was unsure how big a toll the fallout over the chook sex video scandal took on his team.
“We need to speak to players as a group behind closed doors because it can’t go on, it can’t go on, something’s got to break somewhere,” Laidley said of the poor effort.
Veteran midfielders Brady Rawlings and Adam Simpson were the club’s two top possession winners and the club’s only real standouts on the day.
The coach said it was simply because they worked harder than their teammates.
“They work the hardest, they work their backsides off, they work to get the football,” he said.
“They haven’t been our best kicks over the journey, but I’ll tell you what, you’d take them every day of the week.
“I’d take them every day of the week on top of people that have talent but don’t work hard.”
Having praised his team’s efforts in last weekend’s narrow loss to the Western Bulldogs, Laidley said it was clear the off-field events of the week had some effect, but it was difficult to determine how much.
“They trained really well, there was spirit within the football club and they were upbeat all week, we went about our business like we usually do,” he said.
“But there was some pretty heavy criticism, I suppose, particularly of a couple of boys and it’s going to take a toll, to what extent I’m not sure, I’m not a psychologist even though I try to be.”
He said on top of dealing with criticism over the lurid chicken video produced by several North players becoming public, he had spent part of the week counselling a distressed defender Josh Gibson.
Gibson performed solidly on Hawthorn star Lance Franklin, in what Laidley said was a good recovery from previous poor form.
“Josh Gibson’s last three weeks have been absolutely putrid to the point where he was (going to be) out of the side,” Laidley said.
“I got him into my office earlier in the week and we had a good chat and he was very, very emotional and very distraught.
“So my first two days of the week were taken up with Josh Gibson, we’ve really moved him forward, and to come back and do what he did today I thought was a mark of his character.
“Then obviously we had World War III break out and we’ve been trying to put our fingers in the dyke all week, so if that has an effect I don’t know, how do you measure it?”
Capping a bad week for the club, big forward David Hale was stretchered off late in the first half and had to be taken to hospital after being knocked out in a marking contest.
Leigh Harding left the ground late in the match with a sore knee, but a club doctor said there was no injury and Harding was merely “fatigued”.