North Melbourne have kept faith with Joel Tippett as expected and swung the axe elsewhere for Sunday’s must-win AFL clash with Brisbane.
Tippett and his team endured a nightmare start to the season last weekend – Adelaide mauled North by 77 points and Taylor Walker kicked 6.5 on the key defender.
But coach Brad Scott defended Tippett during the week, noting his resilience.
Instead, the Kangaroos dropped Ryan Bastinac, Sam Wright and Ben Jacobs for Robin Nahas, Ben Brown and Mason Wood for the Etihad Stadium match.
Scott pointed out that Tippett has forged his AFL career the hard way, with spells on the rookie lists at Brisbane, Gold Coast and North.
“He’s worked unbelievably hard to get his opportunity at AFL level,” Scott said.
“He’s a fighter, he’s a resilient person who has fought to get to the position he’s in.
“I’m confident he’ll fight his way out of the position he’s in right now.”
While North made a statement with their axings, the big selection news out of this game was Brisbane dropping James Aish.
After an outstanding debut season last year, the No.7 draft pick struggled in the round-one loss to Collingwood and only managed 13 disposals.
But his omission also comes amid speculation about his future with the Lions.
The midfielder from Adelaide, who has impeccable SA football pedigree, is in the midst of contract talks with the Lions.
He comes out of contract at the end of this season and several clubs from SA and Victoria have him on their radars.
The Lions also dropped Mitch Golby and Trent Cutler, with Matt Maguire, Michael Close and Zac O’Brien joining their 22.
Sunday is a must-win game for North after such a poor start to the season.
Expectations are high at Arden St after North made last year’s preliminary finals.
The meek surrender to the Crows has put the heat on North and rekindled talk about whether the ‘Roos are tough enough to cement themselves in the top four.
Scott said the one pleasing aspect of this week had been the honest feedback the players gave each other.
“But again, they’re just words at the moment – we’ll find out (on) Sunday,” he said.