The trouble at North Melbourne Kangaroos and why club chiefs should be nervous

So, Walsh will walk into his old club on Monday to observe a coach with whom he has no relationship and who did not see him coming. In a four-round crash course he will watch the dynamics of the coaches’ box and attempt to make sense of the disconnection between coaches, players and the remaining recruiters and football bosses who partly inherited this mess, but have shown no ability to fix it.

North DNA: Geoff Walsh.Credit:Darrian Traynor

Everyone in football knows the way this normally ends. Noble, who in his final year as football boss at Brisbane seemed set on a path to become a club chief executive, chose to become a senior coach instead and to date appears to have made the wrong choice. The North coaching group can rightly blame list management and recruiting, but Noble has not managed to win over his players nor unite them, and he is unlikely to remain at the club beyond 2022.

Nor is there unity among the North executive. Amarfio will not like this, but it remains difficult to reconcile his physical absenteeism from the club during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis as Rhyce Shaw’s struggles intensified and rookie football bosses including Brady Rawlings had to oversee the unhappy Queensland hub. Rawlings, whose title is head of football talent, has taken a less senior role than originally envisaged, but his performance, too, will come under scrutiny.

North blame the AFL for poaching the club’s administrative rising star Laura Kane and the AFL blames North for not appointing Kane to the top football job when they had the chance. Either way the club’s football operation looks thin – a situation underlined by the recruitment of Walsh as another outside consultant. Relatively new football operations boss Daniel McPherson had already undertaken a football review over the bye round, but clearly more work and tougher decisions were required.

Walsh’s return to North in a third reincarnation – he first joined the club almost three decades ago – might well be brief. He heads overseas at the start of August but could return by the start of September should he be required to help oversee the change that seems inevitable.

Some experienced North heads believe Walsh left behind a mess in 2016, although he cannot be blamed for the disasters overseen by the subsequent five years under the Ben Buckley presidency. And Carlton’s success to date in 2022, along with the manner in which he and Graham Lowe and Matthew Pavlich conducted the Blues’ review, means he comes highly recommended.

Hood, who was running North’s community initiative, The Huddle when Walsh last ran the football operation, has spent the first months of her presidency consulting key North figures, past and present, as well as key players across the AFL. She should be seen as one of the few Kangaroos bosses secure in her role by virtue of her short time in the job, although this is no honeymoon period.

The appointment of Walsh is her first big play, and it looms as a strategic hit job of historic proportions.

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