In-form North ruckman eyes Swans upset

Todd Goldstein is leading the AFL in hitouts this season, but the North Melbourne ruckman is hungry for a whole lot more.

Most pressing is a win on Saturday over Sydney, the side that crushed North by 71 points in a preliminary final last year.

“It is hard not to think about it given it was such a disappointing game,” Goldstein told AAP.

“But both sides are playing quite differently now.

“What happened last year is largely irrelevant … it’s more about what’s been working recently for us and what hasn’t.”

The Kangaroos have been been hot and cold this season, but showed plenty of pluck in a last-start win over West Coast.

“We’ve just got to make sure last week is a springboard and we get that sort of commitment every week,” Goldstein said.

Goldstein has been one of North’s best this season, backing up a career-best year in 2014 when he finished runner-up in the club best and fairest.

The 26-year-old has 406 hitouts to his name this season, a better haul than Fremantle man mountain Aaron Sandilands.

It is an impressive statistic, given Sandilands recently set a new record with 69 taps in a single match.

But not a number that Goldstein is about to celebrate given the demands of the modern game.

“You can’t afford to carry a ruckman that’s just getting the hitouts and not doing much else,” he said.

“It is a major part of my role, but there’s also the tackles, pressure, marks and everything else around the ground.”

In that regard, Goldstein is somewhat happy but far from satisfied.

“It was a pleasing start to the season, plateaued a bit then started to pick up the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“That’s the baseline and now I need to keep raising the bar.”

North start round 11 in a ladder logjam as one of seven teams with either a 5-5 or 6-4 record.

Goldstein suggested last year’s grand finalists would give North a good idea of where deserve to sit in that mix.

“Anytime you get a chance to play the best sides in the competition, you want to see how you measure up,” he said.

RUCK OFF AFTER 10 ROUNDS

*406 hitouts – Todd Goldstein

*399 hitouts – Aaron Sandilands

*394 hitouts – Shane Mumford

*345 hitouts – Mike Pyke.

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