No-one’s position – including 150-game AFL veterans – is safe in the inconsistent Kangaroos according to defender Scott Thompson.
The 29-year-old will reach the milestone on Saturday night when North Melbourne host Geelong at Etihad Stadium.
But Thompson said coach Brad Scott’s reaction to their 55-point belting by Gold Coast – dropping three players including experienced forward Lindsay Thomas – showed that everyone must play their role or face the consequences.
“The players understand the coaches are going to pull the trigger if you’re not in good form or you’re not playing to the team structure,” Thompson said on Friday,
“The message is clear and we’re all on notice.
“That’s good; you perform, or you don’t play.”
Majak Daw and Trent Dumont were also casualties of poor form while defender Lachie Hansen (hip) was a forced omission.
Ben Brown, Ryan Bastinac, Taylor Garner and Aaron Mullett have come in for the Kangaroos, while Geelong have recalled stars Jimmy Bartel and James Kelly as well as ruckman Dawson Simpson for Geelong’s first match in three weeks.
Thompson said the coach’s message for Thomas was that he needed to deliver for the full four quarters.
“He’s one of the best forward pressure players in the game so if he keeps working on that and making sure he does it the whole time, consistently, he’ll be straight back in,” Thompson said.
“He’s one of our best players.
“We love him in the team and we hope he can come straight back in.”
Thompson said it was a key match for his 12th-placed side as they looked to close the gap on the top eight.
Geelong are in a similar position, sitting 10th heading into the round.
“It’s a big game,” he said.
“We’ve dropped plenty of games so far in this season and if we don’t start winning, finals are out for us.”