North Melbourne coach Brad Scott is forcing a feted quartet of players out of the club, but not into AFL retirement.
Scott says whether Brent Harvey, Drew Petrie, Nick Dal Santo and Michael Firrito seek to extend their careers at other clubs is up to them.
And he’s described his decision to tell the quartet they won’t be offered fresh contracts by North as among his toughest times in football.
AFL games record holder Harvey is believed to want to continue playing next year, with a batch of clubs circling, and Dal Santo is also expected to consider offers to play on.
“In my view it’s never a coach’s role to retire players. Ever,” Scott said after North’s season ended with a 62-point elimination final loss to Adelaide on Saturday night.
“Players decide when they retire and I was determined never at any stage to coerce, force, direct, Boomer (Harvey) with what he wanted to do.
“I’m charged with responsibility of doing the right thing by our football club.
“But I still regard myself as a a players coach so the things that have unfolded in the second half of the year have been as tough as any period of my time in footy.
“But we will not force Boomer to make a decision one way or the other. That decision will be entirely his.”
Scott said farewelling the club greats on Saturday night was “really tough for everyone involved”.
“The senior players are going to leave a magnificent legacy for our football club but there’s no doubt the landscape will look completely different next year,” he said.
“They leave a huge hole but there are plenty of guys who are really hungry and eager to fill those holes.
“But right now … the overwhelming feeling is one of reflecting on the legacy that those guys will leave us, because it will last at our football club for generations.
“Everyone will remember the great deeds on field and everyone within the club will remember all of the boys and what they did for us off field.
“But over-riding all of that will be the legacy for the next generations of North Melbourne footballers who will get to experience the culture and the legacy that Brent Harvey, Michael Firrito, Drew Petrie and Nick Dal Santo have left for them.”