North Melbourne are set to regain key duo Shaun Higgins and Robbie Tarrant as they attempt to snap a run of six round-one losses.
Higgins (knee surgery) and Tarrant (back soreness) have had interrupted AFL pre-season campaigns but are expected to be available when the Kangaroos try to banish their round one hoodoo against Adelaide at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
“They could have played last week,” Roos ruckman Todd Goldstein told reporters on Tuesday.
“I think the strength and conditioning staff decided that one more week off just getting that strength up was best for them.”
Goldstein, who will play his 150th AFL game, doesn’t believe in hoodoos or curses and says the Kangaroos’ poor record hasn’t been mentioned around the club.
The Roos haven’t tasted success in their season-opening match since 2009 and suffered a 77-point thrashing at the hands of the Crows in the corresponding fixture last season.
“We can’t change that now, we’re focused on Adelaide and it doesn’t really matter what round it is,” he said.
“It’s about what we need to get out of each game – round one isn’t any more important than round two, three or 15 – it’s about trying to get as many wins as we can and setting ourselves up for finals.”
Goldstein is coming off a stellar season where he broke Gary Dempsey’s record for hitouts in a single season and earned All Australian honours.
North coach Brad Scott believes the scrapping of the substitute and the decrease in interchange rotations will allow the elite endurance athlete to raise the bar even higher.
“It’s too early to tell, I think,” Goldstein said.
“Most other rucks have been working on their fitness, so it’s one of those wait and see things, but it’s definitely not going to hurt me.”