Nick Dal Santo will be naming his New Year’s resolutions for all 18 AFL teams over the next week.
Starting with North Melbourne, Geelong and GWS, the former All-Australian midfielder named the changes the three teams should make in 2021.
Here’s what Dal Santo said on SEN Breakfast this morning:
Get Ben Cunnington healthy
“Now I didn’t say fit and healthy because I don’t know if Ben Cunnington can get AFL fit,” Dal Santo said of his former teammate.
“We need to see Cunnington playing in the midfield at every stoppage possible for North Melbourne to be a decent team again.”
Jack Ziebell must be playing beside him
“He is not a forward, Ziebell is an on-ball captain,” Dal Santo said.
“He can go forward if he needs to rest, a little bit like how we’ve spoken about Patrick Dangerfield.
“Ziebell needs to be on-ball.”
Rediscover what kind of football club they are
“They were a little bit of everything and a little bit of nothing last year with ball movement and also team defence,” Dal Santo said.
“Be who you want to be, a new coach, a new group of players, work that out over the pre-season, but find your style and own it.”
Sort out your injuries
“I feel like I’ve said it for four or five years,” Dal Santo said.
“You can’t have a list that is that good, and maybe this questions their depth, but you can’t have a list that is that good not playing finals.
“Even just the lack of continuity throughout the season playing with the same guys every week.
“It has to be sorted out, whatever the issue might be. The training surfaces, the style of training, the pre-season, the management from week to week, something needs to be sorted out.”
Rediscover their dare
“They need to rediscover their dare with ball in hand, particularly out of the back-half,” Dal Santo said.
“Lachie Whitfield went to half back, you can’t be that talented and move the ball the slowest and the widest in the AFL.
“You need to have an identity and you need to understand that at times you may turn the football over and it might not be in the ideal area, but if you don’t take the risk to be great, you’re going to be playing in your back-half a lot and that’s what they did last year.”
Put Jesse Hogan in a position to have a year like he did in 2018
“He kicked 47 goals 23, maybe those expectations are a touch high, but he’s going into his seventh year of footy so he’s not actually as old as some of us think,” Dal Santo said.
“Give him an opportunity.
“I think he has to come out of the goal square. There’s Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson who I think can work around.
“But your responsibility as a coach is to put players in their best position to be elite.
“There’s a reason you’re in the AFL. Jesse Hogan is a great full forward when he plays anywhere near his best. Give him that opportunity to be that person.”
Trade period recruits to make them a 32-point better team than last year
“They lost the Grand Final by 31 points. Simple as that,” Dal Santo said.
Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood to play on-ball
“Two years ago they tried Selwood on the wing and it didn’t work. Finals time he goes back to his best position and where he has the most influence on the game,” Dal Santo said.
“Dangerfield they’ve trialled out of the goal square. I love those bits in little glimpses, but Dangerfield is still one of the best midfielders in the competition.
“Put him where the ball is and where it starts.”
Find their next key defender for the next decade
“They’ve had it with Harry Taylor, they’ve had it in bits and pieces with Mark Blicavs and Lachie Henderson, but that won’t last forever,” Dal Santo said.
“Who is that next key pillar in defence that will hold them in really good stead down at Geelong or any ground in Australia.
“It’s extremely difficult, but if you have trust in any team to get it right it’s the Cats.”