Sport AFL Kangaroos’ decision not to re-sign veterans is confusing

Kangaroos’ decision not to re-sign veterans is confusing

Brent Harvey chaired off after record game
It wasn't that long ago that Brent Harvey was chaired off by Drew Petrie and Michael Firrito after his milestone match. Photo: AAP
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In what appeared to be a hastily assembled media conference on Wednesday, coach Brad Scott announced North Melbourne would not be re-signing four of their veterans in Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Nick Dal Santo and Michael Firrito for the 2017 season.

Although Scott expressed his disappointment at having to lose such valuable servants of the club, he said it was done with “the club’s best interests beyond 2017” in mind.

Not since the ACT government announced in May this year they were to kill 2000 of the pesky macropods has such a culling of kangaroos occurred. In one fell swoop, North Melbourne has discarded a combined 1337 games of AFL experience.

The decision not to re-sign Petrie and Firrito can be understood. Both struggled at various times this season, and as good as they have each been for North Melbourne over a long period, there would have to have been huge question marks on their ability to remain competitive next year.

However, electing not to give Harvey, and to a lesser extent Dal Santo, another year is confusing to say the least – particularly when the club has decided to retain both Jarrad Waite and Daniel Wells.

Waite will be 34 when the 2017 season gets underway. Although sensational in the first half of the year, injury has restricted his output in the second as it has done for much of his career, limiting him to just 14 appearances in 2017.

Brent Harvey celebrating
Brent Harvey has been one of North’s best players for two decades. Photo: Getty

At 31 years of age, Wells has also had his injury problems over the last few seasons, restricting him to just 12 games in the previous two years. Although he has managed 16 to date in 2017, there have still been ongoing concerns, and North have admitted he will have to be ‘managed’ for the remainder of his career.

Both Dal Santo and Harvey have proven to be more durable than either Wells or Waite over a long period of time.

Harvey and Dal Santo would also (arguably in Dal Santo’s case) be in North Melbourne’s top five or six players. In Boomer’s case, there is a serious case to suggest that even at 38 years of age he is the Kangaroos’ best player behind Todd Goldstein.

In season 2016, Harvey is averaging 21.2 disposals, 4.1 marks, 2.6 tackles and 1.6 goals per game – all career-highs.

Daniel Wells
Daniel Wells has played 241 games for North. Photo: AAP

Harvey’s 2016 stats are also not far off those he achieved in 2008, the last occasion he was selected in the All-Australian side. In that season he averaged 24.7 disposals, 4.8 marks, 2.4 tackles and 1.1 goals.

It is little surprise that North Melbourne supporters have taken to social media to vent their frustration and disappointment at the decision to delist Harvey. The cheer squad have already started a petition to have him re-signed for next season, and in an ongoing media poll 63 per cent of over 9000 respondents believe not re-signing Harvey was a mistake.

Jarrad Waite
Jarrad Waite has been plagued by injury over his career. Photo: AAP

Dal Santo has also had a very good year. He is ranked first at the Kangaroos for average possessions with 24.5, while he is behind only Wells and Gibson in their midfield group in terms of disposal efficiency.

To keep Waite and Wells, yet dump Harvey and Dal Santo just makes no sense. Are North rebuilding? Given the retention of Wells and Waite you would say no, but then why get rid of Harvey?

Whichever way it is spun, the decision to get rid of Harvey and Dal Santo, yet retain Waite and Wells makes no sense. Supporters need to know what direction their club is taking, and the events of Wednesday has no doubt left many Kangaroo fans scratching their heads in bewilderment.

They say twins are very similar – particularly identical ones – yet faced with similar circumstances with regards to an aging yet still well-loved list, one Scott twin has handled the situation with absolute class and given supporters a clear direction, while the other has just left his fans disappointed and confused.

Jamie Radford also writes for – football and fantasy analysis unravelled.


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