Majak Daw has received strong backing from North Melbourne teammate Jamie McMillan, who says the key position player now feels he belongs in the AFL.
Daw will be North’s main ruck option this Friday night against Richmond if Todd Goldstein is forced out.
Goldstein has been an ironman for the Kangaroos, only missing six games in the past seven seasons.
In that time he has become one of the league’s pre-eminent ruckmen, earning All-Australian selection for the first time last year as well as winning the club best and fairest award.
But he is in significant doubt for the Hobart match against the Tigers after a knock to the knee last week during the loss to Sydney.
Goldstein’s durability means there has been little need for the reserve Kangaroos ruckmen.
Daw and rookie-listed player Braydon Preuss, who is yet to make his senior debut, are the main candidates if Goldstein does not play.
Daw has only played 17 games for North since his 2013 debut.
His sole senior match this season was the round-eight win over Essendon.
But Macmillan said Daw now has the right mindset for the demands of the AFL.
“I think over the first four or five years of his career he thought he needed to develop and, although he was telling himself he wanted to play AFL, he probably didn’t see himself belonging at that level,” Macmillan told the AFL website.
“Just having a chat to him now and seeing the way that he plays, you can see he really believes that he belongs.
“I think he now sees himself as an AFL player and has the confidence that he can perform his role.”
Macmillan acknowledged that Goldstein is too valuable a player to replace – but is confident the `Roos can cope if he does not play.
“No one is ever going to be able to come in and do what he can do,” Macmillan said of Goldstein.
“But we’ve got Maj who is more than capable in the ruck and he can perform his role.
“We’ve even got young Preussy, whose work rate has been tremendous out on the track, just trying to get better and learn off Goldy.”