In-form Kangaroo Shaun Higgins is no certainty to face St Kilda in Hobart on Saturday as North Melbourne look to extend their AFL winning streak to six matches.
In his first season at Arden Street since moving from the Western Bulldogs, Higgins has been a regular feature in Brad Scott’s side.
The 27-year-old has played all 18 matches so far this season, notching an impressive 10 hauls of at least two goals.
In the past fortnight, he put together back-to-back 30 possession games for the first time in his career, managing two goals against Carlton and Melbourne as well.
Scott believes his recruit is in career-best form, but won’t hesitate to leave him out for the trip across Bass Strait if he is unable to prove his fitness.
A long-standing knee complaint flared up in the wake of the Roos’ 35-point win over Melbourne, with Higgins undergoing scans this week.
The damaging runner was on the training track on Thursday and Scott said his afternoon run would determine whether he travelled south.
“He’s been dealing with this for a little while … it’s something he’s had throughout the year but it’s been managed really well,” he said.
“He’ll do a light session and we’ll see how he pulls up – it’ll be a no-risk approach.
“If he’s close to 100 per cent, he will play.”
Defender Michael Firrito will return after suspension, with Ben Brown (corked calf) poised to continue his run in North Melbourne’s high-scoring forward line.
Over the past five weeks, the Kangaroos have notched five wins to roar to sixth on the ladder with the league’s longest current winning run.
But Scott said anyone suggesting that made them the AFL’s form side should wait another four weeks, saying their streak “reflects the vagaries of the fixtures”.
“We’ve played some sides who have all been below us on the ladder … we’ll find out a bit more over the next month.”
The Saturday afternoon match is edging closer to a sellout, ensuring the Kangaroos will receive a warmer welcome in their second home than a recent snow-day might suggest.
“The weather’s always been kind to us in Tassie. The poor game, I wasn’t there – that was the West Coast wind debacle,” he said.
“The pictures of the snow on the beach were unbelievable … if the conditions are a bit inclement, it suits us more and becomes more of a home ground advantage.”
Scott returns to Hobart for the first time since an altercation with a security guard that led to a Tasmanian Police investigation, having missed the round-10 win over the Eagles with his back injury.