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Opinion

The five players your team can least afford to lose: North Melbourne

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Roar Guru
5th September, 2021
5

Even though the North Melbourne Kangaroos won the wooden spoon, there were some positives to take out of season 2021.

After a dismal performance against the Bombers in Round 10 where they lost by exactly 12 goals, they were competitive as they only lost by four goals or more on two occasions in their last 12 games of 2021. They won three games, drew a game and lost eight games during that time period.

To be eligible, it’s essential that each player selected featured in at least five games this year. Here are the five players and an honourable mention selected that the Kangaroos could least afford to lose based on their 2021 performances.

Honourable mention
Aaron Hall had the most metres gained on average of any player in 2021! He had an average of 637.35 metres gained in 20 games. He averaged the most disposals of any Kangaroos player with an average of 27.90 per game.

He averaged the most rebound 50s of any Kangaroos player with an average of 7.35 per game. But wasn’t his stats that was most impressive – he wasn’t afraid to take the game on.

5. Tarryn Thomas
Thomas averaged the third most goals of any Kangaroos player with an average of 1.14 per game.

He has the capability of playing different roles. He averaged the second most score involvements of any Kangaroos player with an average of 5.52 per game. He averaged the most goal assists of any Kangaroos player with an average of 0.71 per game.

Tarryn Thomas of the Kangaroos handpasses

(Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

He averaged the eighth most disposals of any Kangaroo with an average of 18.19 per game, which is a fair amount for a player who makes a difference with most of his disposals. He still averaged the second amount of inside 50s of any Kangaroos players behind Jy Simpkin, with 4.24 per game.

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4. Jy Simpkin
Simpkin was consistent for the Kangaroos; he never stopped trying and was a great example to his teammates. He averaged the second most disposals of any Kangaroos player with an average of 26.91 per game. Only Aaron Hall had a higher average.

Simpkin featured in all 22 games and had the second highest average of contested possessions of any Kangaroos player, after Ben Cunnington, averaging 10.68 per game. He averaged the third most tackles of any Kangaroos player with an average of 3.82 per game. Remarkably, he only had less than 20 disposals in one game!

3. Robbie Tarrant
Only featured in ten games, but was an integral part of the Kangaroos’ structure. He averaged the third highest disposal efficiency of any Kangaroo with an average of 85.52 disposal percentage efficiency per game.

He had the second most intercepts on average of any Kangaroos player behind Jack Ziebell, with Tarrant having an average of 5.40 intercepts per game. He had at least ten disposals in those ten games and the opposition only scored over 100 points on one occasion.

In the other 12 games the Kangaroos played without him, the opposition scored over 100 points on five occasions.

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2. Ben Cunnington
Cunnington averaged the second most contested possessions of any player in the competition, with an average of 15.60 per game, only averaging less than Clayton Oliver from the Demons. The fact that Cunnington only played 15 games and the Kangaroos’ four wins and a draw all came with him in the team vindicates that he was a bit of a barometer for the Kangaroos.

He also worked hard defensively, averaging the second most tackles of any Kangaroos player behind Jed Anderson as Cunnington had an average of 4.93 tackles per game.

1. Nick Larkey
Thus man was a pivotal part of the Kangaroos’ structure. He averaged the same number of goals per game as the Eagles’ Jack Darling with an average of 1.91 per game. What was most impressive about Larkey’s season was his work rate and he featured in all 22 games in season 2021.

In the last 12 games of the campaign, he only failed to kick a goal on one occasion, in Round 16, against the Bulldogs. He was the Roos’ leading goal kicker and kicked 31 goals in their last 11 games, including a seven-goal bag in their win over the Blues in Round 19.

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