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‘The man’ with Selwood, Voss and Kelly attributes who can drag the Roos forward


While North Melbourne eventually went under to Collingwood on Sunday, there was plenty to like about the side’s performance.

The Kangaroos were dominant in kicking eight goals to two in the first quarter before adding another six in the second term to lead by 48 points at half-time of the heartbreaking one-point defeat.

A major reason for their control early in the game was due to George Wardlaw who had 22 disposals, eight score involvements, six inside 50s and three clearances in the first half.

Two-time North premiership player David King was taken by what Wardlaw did in finishing with 30 touches, 10 score involvements, six inside 50s and six clearances.

He feels the 20-year-old possesses the attributes to be ‘the man’ to take the Roos forward.

“George Wardlaw has the game that says, ‘I am the man’,” King said on SEN’s Whateley.

“We’re looking for who the man is. It may be ‘LDU’ (Luke Davies-Uniacke), it may be the bloke just underneath him coming through who might go past him, to say, ‘I’m the one to steer this footy club’.

“(Harry) Sheezel is a very good player, but is he the man?

“But this guy (Wardlaw)… sometimes you need the guy with the heart and soul who drags the group.

“I look at Zak Butters and I see this kid is the same as Zak Butters. We’re talking about those guys that everyone wants to play with and everyone wants to play for. When they speak it means more, when they act it drags the group with him.

“It was great to see from a North Melbourne point of view to be able to have that sort of quarter and then have that sort of half. Ok, they didn’t win the game, but what they did do is there’s certain benchmarks that you’ve blown past.

“Gone are the days where you can’t compete on offence. You can attack now, you can score, there’s no reason why you can’t score.”

Nathan Buckley and Kane Cornes were also inspired by Wardlaw, who was in devastating form in just his 20th AFL game.

Buckley found similarities between 2022’s Pick 4 and former Sydney Swans captain Paul Kelly.

He asked Cornes on SEN Breakfast: “Who does Wardlaw remind you of?

“I had flashbacks of a well-respected, tough player from about 20 years ago.

“The guy that I thought Wardlaw looked like was Paul Kelly.

“In and under, courageous, he’d go back with the flight, he’d put his head under, he would burst out of packs, he was wiry and strong.

“Wardlaw is a little bit bigger, but super powerful, super courageous, would win a ball that you wouldn’t expect him to win, a bit scruffy with the way he goes about it, he doesn’t do things for aesthetics, he does things for effect.

“A little bit of Anthony Stevens (as well).”

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Cornes can see a mixture of recently-retired Geelong captain Joel Selwood and Brisbane Lions great Michael Voss in Wardlaw.

“It’s like a more explosive version of Selwood, to me,” he added.

“He’s got the Joel Selwood attributes, but he’s more explosive and he has greater athleticism than what Joel had, with all due respect top Joel. It’s not a criticism, it’s just the way that I see it.

“He’s got Voss-like attributes and Selwood-like attributes in the way that he just get the team on his back.

“I just want to say, rock bottom is over for North. The times of them being non-competitive will be few and far between.

“They’re going to win more games than they lose from here on in, I reckon. I know it was disappointing yesterday but there seems to be somewhat of a changing of the guard.”

In 2024, Wardlaw is equal second at the Roos for goal assists, fourth for clearances, fourth for score involvements and sixth for total disposals.

He is the current favourite for the Rising Star award.

North Melbourne

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