AFL 2020 | North Melbourne’s tough options if Rhyce Shaw...

AFL 2020 | North Melbourne’s tough options if Rhyce Shaw...
AFL 2020 | North Melbourne’s tough options if Rhyce Shaw...

Due to the time constraints, the club’s board of directors, managing director Ben Amarfio and football boss Brady Rawlings are under double pressure.

A relatively quick appointment – assuming Shaw is done – is preferable, but not at the expense of correctness, given the enormous challenges the new coach will face: a team undergoing a serious makeover, 11 players cleared out ( plus Shaun Higgins on his way to Geelong) and six of Shaw’s assistants have been removed.

Another problem for the Roos – and there’s no airbrushing for it – is that their position on the ladder, the weaknesses of their playlist (obviously in the delistings), and the industry’s perception that the club is vulnerable and troubled, some coaching candidates are courteous excuse yourself from doing the job.

A wise candidate will ask questions to North, including Glenn Archer’s role in the football club. As far as one can tell, Archer has been empowered to an unhealthy degree for a board member to focus on governance and oversight. If these questions mean you won’t be hired, it reflects the club more than the potential coach.

The Roos will prefer either a seasoned ex-senior trainer or a gray-haired assistant who has enough flying hours to board without a co-pilot. They won’t experiment again with someone lacking in experience, and one would guess if they could find another Chris Fagan once Shaw left, they would sign them right away.

Michael Voss, for example, was a potential candidate when Shaw was hired, but chose not to pursue the position knowing that Shaw Winx had chances of landing it.

Like Brett Ratten, Voss is an obvious second timer who, based on the experience and knowledge gained, would be better on his second visit. At all costs, however, he may hesitate to take on the position of north coach and will not have to leave the Port Adelaide sanctuary. Not yet.

Paul Roos would be an easy job if he were willing to accept it. Roos spoke to North about a mentoring role alongside Shaw, who arguably didn’t have the seasoned support required of a coach who finished the game in 2015. The removal of so many assistants – starting with Jade Rawlings, the football boss’s brother – speaks to the fact that North didn’t think he had the right people around.

Would Roos be willing to do this, if only for a season or two? North cannot rely on it. They believe there is a fair chance he will help the club find the next coach. He is close to John Blakey, who has left the Swans and returned to Arden Street as a senior assistant.


Ross Lyon, who has other options for training on request, can be excluded. Don Pyke, who endured horrific stress in Adelaide, said he lost his love of the game when he left the Crows. He has taken on an assistant role to the Swans, effectively replacing Blakey. He has a good chance of even thinking about North. Brendan McCartney is out of clubland. The same goes for Mark Williams.

Remove those skilled hands and you have a group of skilled assistants – with a decade or more in the system behind them – on the Maybes list.

These include Scott Burns, who has just started a job with the Crows, John Barker (Carlton), Nigel Lappin (Geelong), Robert Harvey (Collingwood) and last but not least Adam Kingsley, who was sprayed with the magic dust of Richmond and has under Served Lyon.

There will be others I didn’t mention. Nobody had thought of David Teague or Shaw until they were janitors. Ratten, on the other hand, had worn headphones before and was a safe choice for the Saints.

When it goes from the phantom phase to what clubs always refer to as a “rigorous, thorough process” in finding the next coach, North – a club with less scope for din-ups than Essendon or Carlton – can’t afford to do it to get it wrong.

Jake Niall is a Walkley award-winning sports journalist and AFL chief writer for The Age.

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