North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw remains “bullish” about what his group can achieve despite their disastrous 2020 campaign that could end with the club’s first wooden spoon in 48 years.
The Kangaroos have lost 13 of their past 14 games to crash to 17th on the table, leaving them just 5.5 per cent ahead of an Adelaide outfit that have hit a purple patch with three wins in a row.
It means if North Melbourne loses to West Coast on Thursday night and Adelaide upset Richmond on Saturday, the Kangaroos will be lumped with their first wooden spoon since 1972.
Shaw entered 2020 full of hope that his side could give the finals a shake, especially after leading the Kangaroos to wins over Richmond, Collingwood, and Port Adelaide as caretaker coach last year.
But crippling injuries combined with the Kangaroos being forced to play most of their season interstate converted North Melbourne into easy beats.
“This year there’s been so many obstacles thrown our way, it’s been a perfect storm in one sense,” Shaw said.
“It’s been a disappointment, and it’s not one that I envisaged at the start of the year.
“But we’ve made gains. I know that sounds strange, but we’ve made gains in areas.
“We’ve exposed players to the AFL level and seen if they’ve been up to it or not. We’ve got a clear picture of where we’re going.”
Shaw was reluctant to set any specific targets for next year. But he’s confident the Kangaroos will be on the upward trend with a bit of luck on the injury front.
“I’m really bullish about what we can achieve,” he said.
“We’ve had no luck this year with injury to some of our really good players and some of our really good young players.
“We’ve had our skipper (Jack Ziebell) for seven games. Ben Cunnington for three games. They’re just a few examples of what we’ve had to deal with.
“What it looks like next year – I’ve got no idea. What I can say is that I’m really excited about that group getting together and getting a chance to play together.”
Shaw says season 2020 has been a struggle for him personally given the team’s poor results.