Todd Goldstein is yet to reflect on an AFL season in which he relinquished an All Australian spot, preferring to focus on finishing it off with a flag.
Goldstein’s ruck battle with Sam Jacobs will have a big say in deciding Saturday night’s elimination final at Adelaide Oval, where North Melbourne are gunning for what would be the biggest upset of the weekend.
Goldstein has enjoyed a productive year, averaging 36.7 hitouts and regularly featuring among North’s best.
But the 28-year-old hasn’t consistently hit the same highs as 2015, when he earned 18 Brownlow votes and a maiden All Australian call-up.
Goldstein notably struggled in the middle third of the season, when he kept playing while recovering from a restrictive knee injury.
“The last month has definitely been a lot better. I’ve started to move a lot better and do a lot of things right,” Goldstein told AAP.
“It’s been nice to mentally have a bit of a break with the bye, nice to freshen up.
“So I’m feeling pretty good and ready to go.
“I’m not worrying too much about the year that has gone, it’s more about what I need to do this week against Sam.”
Goldstein bettered Jacobs twice this year, especially in round one when he was arguably best on ground in North’s 10-point win.
But he knows it will be a tough ask on the weekend.
“It’s always hard. We play our games pretty similar,” Goldstein said.
“We both get along well and enjoy coming up against each other.”
Regarding his All Australian omission, which arguably may not have come if not for Max Gawn’s magnificent breakthrough season, Goldstein was all class.
“It’s a great effort by Max. He’s probably been the most improved played in the competition,” he said.
“Credit to him and I’m pretty happy for him.
“I’ll have 8-10 weeks of reflection after the season, that’s when I can worry about what I can do better in 2017. For now it’s about getting the body and mind ready for finals.”
Some of Goldstein’s best work has come in September – most memorably a match-saving mark against Geelong that prolonged North’s season in 2014.
Goldstein suggested the Kangaroos would draw on their recent record in finals and play without fear of consequences in Adelaide.
“That’s the North Melbourne way and what we did so well in the first nine rounds,” Goldstein said, referencing North’s record-breaking undefeated start to the season.
“We’ve lost a bit of confidence since then but we know what we do works. You don’t reach two prelims by accident.
“We’re pretty confident if we play our way we’ll be successful again.”