Ruckman Todd Goldstein acknowledges North Melbourne still have a lot of work to do if they’re to be a genuine AFL premiership contender.
The undefeated Kangaroos top the ladder after eight rounds, having survived a late charge from Essendon to prevail by 14 points at Etihad Stadium.
Victory against Carlton at the same venue on Saturday will mean North are 9-0. Never before in the club’s 92-season history have they started a year so well.
But North’s second-half fadeout against the Bombers, in which they were almost overrun after boasting a 52-point lead, suggests their win-loss record is somewhat misleading.
“I think very easily we could be 4-4 or even worse,” Goldstein told the Seven Network.
“It’s nice winning games, it’s nice having a lot more wins than losses.
“But we know we’re not playing our best footy. We know we have a lot of improvement to do.
“If we play like we did on the weekend, we’re not going to win a premiership.”
North coach Brad Scott called it a “a win that felt like a loss”.
Goldstein admitted he felt “a bit empty” after the victory.
“It was a bizarre feeling after the game. I don’t think I’ve seen too many sides that have lost then get a standing ovation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Goldstein was upbeat Mason Wood (concussion) would be fit to face the Blues.
Wood was knocked out cold in a marking contest, taken off the field on a stretcher and rushed to hospital during the match against Essendon.
“We were all a bit concerned at the time but he doesn’t really have too many headaches or any symptoms like that,” Goldstein said.
“He was actually feeling surprisingly good (on Sunday).
“So I think at this stage it’s all looking good for next week.”