A week after ruffling feathers with his controversial mass-resting, North Melbourne coach Brad Scott is dealing with the opposite issue – tough calls at the selection table for their AFL elimination final with Richmond.
Scott rested nine players for their last-round loss to the Tigers, who they face on Sunday afternoon for the right to play on in September.
It allowed a number of Roos on the fringe of the senior side to state their case with Kayne Turner, Brad McKenzie and Majak Daw all among the best performers in the Kangaroos’ 41-point loss.
Scott said he was yet to ponder his 22 for the crunch match and was blunt about how difficult it might prove.
“It will be difficult, I don’t have any answers yet,” he said.
“(Resting nine players) was to provide the freshest and fittest available list to pick from this week and we’ve done that.
“That was the intention, to make it really difficult … to have a full list of players to pick from in good form and full fitness.
“It’s a good problem to have.”
Scott was talking tough after the match, saying people who took a pop at his side’s intent owed him an apology, but on Tuesday he said he’d now “taken his tongue out of his cheek”.
That doesn’t mean he’s backed down on the decision.
“Whether people agree with that or not is irrelevant, it doesn’t concern us one iota,” he said.
“We won’t make any apologies for doing what’s right by our footy club.”
Scott’s strategy has blunted any idea Damien Hardwick’s side might carry a mental edge into the elimination final, when the two sides play for the second time in nine days.
If anything, the eighth-placed Kangaroos might head into the match with a mental edge for two key reasons.
Disregarding last Friday night, North Melbourne has won its past six against the Tigers and they carry the memories of last year’s successful September campaign.
By contrast, the Tigers haven’t won a final since 2001 and Roos captain Andrew Swallow suggested it could prove pivotal on Sunday.
“It’s massive,” Swallow said of the confidence boost they received last year.
“You could just see the group really grow over those couple of weeks.
“We’re excited and we feel like we’re in a really good place at the moment.”
Scott said Lindsay Thomas was “not as yet” available with a foot complaint lingering, while dangling hope Daniel Wells could make a shock return on Sunday, possibly as the substitute.
“We hope to have him available this week,” he said.
“We’ve got a lot of players fit and available for selection so it’s about weighing up all those factors.”