Brent Harvey’s rare substitute role means renewed speculation about whether this will be his last AFL season.
The 37-year-old started in the green vest on Saturday night as North Melbourne beat Geelong by 41 points.
He is now two games away from becoming only the fourth AFL player to reach 400 games.
In his 266th game, James Kelly had the role for the Cats.
While Brad Scott said he remains unsure about Harvey’s playing future beyond this year, the Kangaroos coach also made it clear that the substitute role followed some below-par form from the veteran.
“‘Boomer’, probably by his own admission, hasn’t performed the role that we’ve asked him to play on a few occasions this year,” Scott said.
“We had a pretty honest and frank conversation – I mean, we have a great relationship and we talk all the time.
“It was a pretty simple coach-player conversation.
“While being the sub wasn’t a punishment, he needed to know if he’s not going to listen to my words, he might listen to my actions.
But Scott added they feel Harvey can be a real weapon for North as the substitute.
“It probably just took the courage to actually pull the trigger and do it,” he said.
“He was outstanding from (Friday’s) meeting, right through to the end of the game in terms of the way he embraced that role.”
Scott said he and Harvey are speaking regularly about whether the veteran keeps playing next season.
He added it will become obvious whether Harvey should keep playing for another year.
“I’m all about evidence and if he provides the evidence, he should go on,” Scott said.
Saturday night was Scott’s return as the match-day coach after four games out because of back surgery.
He stood in the coaches’ box and at the post-game media conference and admitted to feeling “jittery” about the match.
Scott agreed it would be close to their best four-quarter performance this season.
But it also followed last weekend’s poor loss to Gold Coast and the ongoing challenge for North is to become more consistent.
“The most important thing for us it to replicate (this) effort,” he said.
North captain Andrew Swallow was high among their best and Scott said the midfielder had fulfilled his role as a team leader.
“Andrew Swallow will always front up – and he’ll front up whether we’re 10 goals down, 10 goals up, and keep competing like his life depends on it,” Scott said.
“The issue Andrew’s had, if there is an issue, is that when we’re in trouble, he tries too hard and he goes away from what we need to do as a team because he puts the team on his shoulders.
“He just played within his role that we ask him to play and that’s leadership.”