We continue on with our AFL preview series today by looking at two of the clubs that parted ways with their coaches in 2019, took on interim replacements and then kept them in charge for 2020 and beyond.
Veteran Kangaroo Brent Harvey has accepted the AFL tribunal’s punishment of a three-week suspension for misconduct against Bulldog tagger Liam Picken.
North Melbourne will be without the 383-game superstar for the last two home-and-away matches against Adelaide and Melbourne, as well as a likely elimination final.
But it is the absence of the pint-sized man affectionately known as ‘Boomer’ that could provide the men from Arden Street with the perfect challenge – to win without relying on the AFL’s second oldest active player.
Even at age 36, Harvey is still one of the most important players to North Melbourne. This is either an indictment on the team, that they have not eased his workload, or a testament to the ageing Harvey’s skills and work rate.
One would think that it is a combination of the two, which leads the Kangas to this predicament.
Missing Harvey is a huge blow, but it also gives an opportunity for them to realise that in the not-too-distant future Boomer will not be donning the blue and white prison bar jersey again.
— SuperFooty (AFL) (@superfooty) August 19, 2014
This season Harvey is leading the Roos in average disposals, with 25.75 per game ahead of Levi Greenwood (24.94), kicks with 283 over Sam Gibson (276), as well as inside 50s (86).
He also sits fifth for marks (101), second for handballs (232) and uncontested possessions (367), and has 27 goals from 20 games to place third behind Lindsay Thomas and Drew Petrie.
Now is the time for another player to step up, because when another team comes up against them the game plan is simply ‘stop Harvey’.
Harvey has been remarkably durable over his career and in the last six seasons has only missed a total of 13 games – six to suspension and seven to injury.
In those six years North Melbourne hold a 4-9 record in his absence, highlighting his importance to his side.
He is the perfect outside runner and a master of the one-two handball with quick speed and high endurance who can be a game-breaker but has a fundamental issue dealing with taggers.
During the thrashing handed out by the West Coast Eagles in week one of the 2012 AFL finals, Harvey sucker punched Eagles midfielder Daniel Kerr behind the play and also was cited for striking Adam Selwood, which led him missing the first six rounds of the 2013 season.
Controversy again reared it ugly head with Harvey accusing Fremantle Dockers renowned tagger Ryan Crowley of pinching him “about 300 times”, for which Crowley was fined $1200 for misconduct.
Again at the weekend Harvey was grappling and wrestling with Picken and shoved his forearm into the throat of the Bulldogs stopper.
The Roos have worked hard to get back into finals contention and now must show grit and determination if they are to overcome not only the loss of their veteran playmaker but also another vital cog in their midfield machine, Daniel Wells.
Wells was also suspended for two indiscretions against Western Bulldog Shaun Higgins during the Roos’ 50-point win at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
The Kangaroos will be eager to avenge their most recent stint in the finals after their disastrous campaign in 2012 ended with a 96-point demolition at the hands of the West Coast Eagles at Patersons Stadium.
The charge towards September for the Roos starts this week in Hobart against an Adelaide side hellbent on sealing a spot in September.