North Melbourne coach Brad Scott says showing Brent Harvey and three other veterans the door was the hardest day of his AFL coaching career.
The Kangaroos have dropped a bombshell on the eve of the finals, announcing Harvey, Drew Petrie, Michael Firrito and Nick Dal Santo will not be offered contracts for 2017.
“It’s a heartbreaking decision … easily the hardest day in my coaching career,” Scott said on Wednesday morning.
The coach addressed a media conference at Arden Street shortly after the shock announcement, telling reporters the decision had been made with the club’s long-term future in mind.
He also defended the timing of the announcement, adding it was possible Saturday night’s clash with Greater Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium will be the last opportunity for Victorian fans to farewell the champion quartet.
The Roos were on top of the AFL ladder after 12 rounds but will play off in an elimination final after dropping to eighth with one round left in the home-and-away season.
Depending on round 23 results, North’s 2016 campaign could end with an away elimination final loss to Adelaide, the Giants or West Coast.
Harvey passed Hawthorn great Michael Tuck in round 19 to become the AFL’s all-time games record holder and had expressed a strong desire to play on.
The 38-year-old’s form has not waned in his 21st season but Petrie and Dal Santo have endured inconsistent campaigns, with Petrie in particular, considered lucky not to be dropped.