North, Freo face important AFL test

North Melbourne are 3-0, but definitely with room for improvement, and Fremantle are certainly better than their 0-3 AFL start suggests.

Their twilight clash on Sunday at Etihad Stadium will be an important signpost for where the Kangaroos and Dockers are headed this season.

Star North utility Shaun Higgins says they know exactly what is coming – Fremantle are desperate to turn around a spluttering start.

No team has made the AFL finals after losing their first four games and few people can match Dockers coach Ross Lyon for his competitive streak.

“Fremantle aren’t a bottom-four side,” Higgins said.

“(0-3) is not a reflection on the quality they can produce at their best.

“They obviously have star players; they have a great coach; they’ve had a system that’s worked for a long time.

“They’ll be keen to get a win on the board.”

After a spirited win over Adelaide in round one, North took care of Brisbane comfortably and then narrowly beat Melbourne.

It is the first time in coach Brad Scott’s time at Arden St that they have opened a season with three wins.

While pleased with the start, Higgins said they were under no illusions about their form.

“We probably haven’t laid it out 100 per cent throughout a whole game as yet,” he said.

“We’re travelling okay, given we’re 3-0, but … it can change quickly if you do slip up.”

And North must go up a cog starting this weekend given, over the next fortnight, they play the Suns on the Gold Coast and then face the Western Bulldogs in a Friday night special.

Fremantle have brought in Jonathon Griffin to replace star ruckman Aaron Sandilands, while fellow inclusion Matt Taberner could also pinch-hit against North’s in-form big man Todd Goldstein.

Hayden Crozier is the other recalled Docker, while Mason Wood returns for North.

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