North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw expects a “war of attrition” when the Kangaroos face GWS on Sunday but believes his side can take it up to last year’s AFL grand finalists.
The Kangaroos face a difficult task in their return to action – flying to Sydney on game day to take on the Giants, who comfortably accounted for Geelong back in round one.
“(GWS have) got a very strong list, they’re well-coached, they’ve been together for a long time now – they’re right in that window, to put it in simple terms,” Shaw said.
“But everyone’s gettable and I just think it’s great that we get to go up there and play against a team that’s played in a grand final last year on their home deck, first up, off a break.
“With the way our guys present and the way we’re going to attack this, I’m really confident in having a really good crack at it.”
The Kangaroos will be without key forward Nick Larkey, who will miss at least a week as he recovers from a hot spot in his foot.
Larkey booted 26 goals in 17 games last year, establishing himself as a handy foil for star forward Ben Brown.
Untried forwards Tristan Xerri and Lachie Hosie are among those in the mix to replace Larkey.
“It is disappointing about (Larkey) but he’s doing everything he can to get back as quick as possible, so I’m really pleased with where he’s at, considering the injury,” Shaw said.
“But we’ve got a number of options we can go with and I’m really excited about that as well.”
The Kangaroos will face the unfamiliar situation of flying on game day and Shaw emphasised the need to embrace and capitalise on the challenge.
“We’ve spoken about adapting and making sure that we adapt to win and not just to cope and I think it’s really important that our players are in that mental space,” Shaw said.
“We’ve just got to do whatever it takes to put in our best performance wherever we are.”
Shaw said he was happy the bench had stayed at four players and believed the shorter quarters played into North Melbourne’s hands, given their “power players.”
Meanwhile, Majak Daw (pectoral strain) is 3-4 weeks away from a return, while Taylor Garner avoided surgery on a high-grade hamstring strain but is still 5-6 weeks off.