They might have finished eighth on the AFL ladder but don’t tell North Melbourne they’ll be stealing the flag if they manage to keep their giant-killing run going for another two weeks and lift the premiership cup.
After making a preliminary final last year, the Kangaroos struggled mightily earlier this season before securing their finals berth with a string of solid wins late.
Then they knocked over more-fancied opponents in Richmond and Sydney to set up Saturday night’s preliminary final clash with West Coast.
Veteran Roo Nick Dal Santo, who will reach his 300-game milestone at the weekend, was asked on Monday if the lure of pinching a flag that seemed unthinkable halfway through the season was spurring on their September run.
“I don’t know if it’s stealing – we’ve worked really hard for two years while I’ve been here to put ourselves in this position,” Dal Santo said.
“If we do win it I think we’ve earnt it, for sure.
“I have been in seven (preliminary finals) and there were different times when I didn’t feel like we were quite up to the pace of the better teams.
“But I think we’re in a good position right now as a footy club to go into this weekend, particularly after what we went through last year.”
The Kangaroos received a boost with the news that important forward Drew Petrie escaped serious injury and will line up against the Eagles.
Petrie, 32, underwent scans after copping a knock to a knee in the Kangaroos’ semi-final win over the Swans but has been given the all-clear.
Robbie Tarrant’s fitness remains under a cloud after the defender withdrew from the semi-final with groin soreness and was restricted to light duties at a training session at Arden Street on Monday.
West Coast have been one of the success stories of the season, having surprised many to finish second on the ladder, and present a huge challenge for North to overcome in Perth.
Dal Santo is well aware of what lies in wait for his side but says they go in confident of what they can achieve.
“Our game plan over the last 10 weeks has held up,” he said.
“It’s held up in two huge games over the last two weekends. If it holds up again – fantastic – but we haven’t looked into ways to try and build confidence or reassure ourselves that our game works.
“I think the evidence over the last couple of months shows that we can do it if we apply ourselves.”