AFL News: Larkey confident North can turn season around, new Legend Dunstall not sure if he’d cut it these days


North Melbourne star Nick Larkey has declared it would be his worst nightmare if he left Arden St before the Kangaroos emerged as a premiership contender.

As he prepares for a major milestone on Sunday, the 25-year-old forward has played in just 20 wins across his first 99 games at North.

Larkey, who was taken with pick 73 in the 2016 draft, is staying loyal to the Kangaroos after signing on at the club until the end of the 2029 season.

The three-time North leading goal-kicker has no ambitions to chase short-term success elsewhere, saying the “tough times are going to make the good times even better”.

“Despite the win-loss record I’ve had, and we’ve all had, I’ve still enjoyed every minute I’ve had at North Melbourne, and that’s why I signed up long-term,” Larkey said on Monday.

“I didn’t sign up thinking it would turn instantly.

“I saw enough last year and previous years to know there were small signs here and there, it might not turn overnight, but I know eventually it will turn.

“My nightmare would be to be at the club for all the tough times, take off, then all of a sudden we get good.

“I want to be a part of the club when it gets good because we’ve been through the tough times.

“When we do turn it’s going to make it even sweeter.”

Larkey insists he loves a “challenge” and believes a premiership elsewhere would not feel as satisfying.

“I think anyone can run to a top team and try win a flag, but does that flag mean as much as the one where you’ve done the hard work and put in the hours through the tough times? I don’t think so,” he said.

Is Nick Larkey in the AFL’s top 50 players? (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

“That’s the success I want is the one that is forged through a bit of adversity.”

Meanwhile, North young gun Colby McKercher has been cleared of rib damage following a collision with Geelong star Jeremy Cameron during Sunday’s 75-point defeat to the Cats.

McKercher was subbed out of the match at quarter-time and sent to hospital for scans.

But last year’s No.2 draft pick was given the all-clear and spent the night at home, keeping him in contention to face Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium this Sunday.

Dunstall not sure if he’d cut it these days

Former Hawthorn champion Jason Dunstall flashed a wry grin when he delivered his personal assessment of how he would have fared in the modern AFL environment.

“I wouldn’t get through pre-season, to be brutally frank,” the 59-year-old said.

On Monday, it was announced Dunstall would be elevated to Legend status in the Australian Football Hall of Fame on June 18.

The four-time premiership Hawk is only the 32nd person in the history of the game to be given that title.

But Dunstall, who who sits third on the all-time list of AFL/VFL goal-kickers with 1254 majors, isn’t sure he would have flourished under the demands of the modern game.

“I don’t know if I’d be a good enough athlete, honestly,” he said.

“But you kind of think if you were brought up in a different time, you’d be physiologically a little different and better prepared to come into the game.

“Because they have such a great pathway now, which wasn’t really in existence back in the eighties.

“Look, maybe, but I don’t know where I’d play because I’d be too small to play midfield. I’d be a (forward) pocket or a flank, I think.”

Dunstall was listed at 188cm and 98kg, making him shorter and heavier than Brownlow Medal-winning modern midfield beasts Patrick Cripps (195cm, 92kg) and Nat Fyfe (192cm, 96kg).

The former Hawthorn captain kicked a century of goals in six separate seasons and would rightfully have few regrets about how his glittering 269-game career played out before his retirement in 1998.

But he said his advice to his younger self would be a simple message.

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More details:

— AFL (@AFL) April 15, 2024

“Be a better athlete before you get here and work on your endurance a little bit,” he said.

“But I was lucky, we never ran up and down the ground the way they do now. It’s such a different game.”

One that he still loves?

“Whilst the game’s changed a lot, the basic premise for me hasn’t,” Dunstall said.

“There are still some great games to watch and still some where I think I’ve just wasted a couple of hours.

“That’s forever and a day the way it’s going to be. It’s a fantastic sport, you just enjoy the ride while you can.”

Dunstall was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002.

Since retiring as a player, he has served as an assistant coach and board member at Hawthorn and is now a respected media commentator.

with AAP

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