New North Melbourne coach David Noble wants to make one point very clear.
Despite his four-year stint as Brisbane Lions football manager coinciding with their rise from basket case to a preliminary final, the Kangaroos will forge their own path to success.
North Melbourne coach David Noble is keen for the club to forge its own path.Credit:Getty Images
“We are not going to be Brisbane version two. We are North Melbourne version one,” Noble said.
What that version looks like remains to be seen as Noble prepares North Melbourne’s mix of veterans and talented youngsters to play in the style he envisions.
His shorthand description of that style is fast football built off the Kangaroos’ strength in the contest which will be taught in a high performance environment underpinned by care for individuals.
What might sound like a motherhood statement from a young coach doesn’t sound hollow coming from a 53-year-old who understands what everyone in the club needs to do to make that happen and how to handle the emotional ride that journey takes people on.
“Failure is not all doom and gloom. Failure is an opportunity to get better,” Noble said.
Getting better is something Noble has strived to do in the past decade after shelving a coaching career for one in football administration that saw him move from Crows’ list manager to football manager before he joined the floundering Lions in the same role.
North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell.Credit:Getty Images
His aim was to become a club CEO until his old Fitzroy teammate Paul Roos rang to see if he would apply for the North Melbourne gig left vacant when Rhyce Shaw departed for personal reasons.
Noble knew, after watching Lions coach Chris Fagan’s outstanding performance at Brisbane, that the breadth of skills he had acquired over years spent in club polo tops could be brought to bear as the coach, a position that in the modern environment is the CEO of football.
“I do things a bit different to what ‘Fages’ does but I have learned a shedload from him,” Noble said.
Outwardly calm and process driven, Noble is good at solving problems through the application of common sense.
He will coach from the bench to begin with to be near the players, hearing what they are experiencing and remaining in touch with how tough playing can be while trusted senior assistant John Blakey steers the ship from a Kangaroos’ coaches box that looks completely different from last season.
Noble said part of his job is about “keeping energy in the environment” and to that end the group has worked collectively to reshape the program so that players have the same day off each week. There has also been a renewed focus on injury prevention.
After focusing most of his analysis of the team on their performance against last year’s finalists (they won one from eight and had a percentage of 60 but only lost to the Lions by a point) Noble shook a few branches on the field too.
The skipper Jack Ziebell headed to half-back, Jaidyn Stephenson will spend time in the midfield and Todd Goldstein, Jed Anderson and Ben Cunnington expect to play forward on occasion as he looks to create roles that allow each individual to bring what he calls their weapons to each match.
That means Jared Polec brings speed, Aidan Corr intercept marking, Tarryn Thomas agility and Jed Anderson toughness.
He has been pleased with how the senior players have embraced the suggestions but says it hasn’t surprised him.
“Good players and people who are proud of their performance also want to be proud of their performance going forward,” Noble said.
If experienced players can’t deliver consistently Noble won’t mind their performance being questioned while younger players will be supported as they find their feet to ensure haphazard form doesn’t lead to nerves that affect their ability to play on instinct.
“It is OK for them to know there are going to be some dips as long as you know where they are coming from and what to do about it,” Noble said.
“Our job as coaches is to not the hit the highs too high and lows too low.”
That is important coaching a squad that contains an emerging midfield in Thomas, Anderson, Jy Simpkin, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Bailey Scott and draftees such as Will Phillips, Tom Powell and Charlie Lazzaro.
“They are all at slightly different levels and areas in their growth, all in the stage for me where they are emerging and not quite established,” Noble said.
“You could probably could argue some of them are but they are in that stage where they are coming through and learning the caper as to how to be really good. They have all got the capacity to do that.”
As for scores, Noble is more excited about the team’s forward-line minus Ben Brown than most, saying the different look will surprise a few opponents.
His time has arrived and there isn’t any to waste. But that doesn’t mean he expects overnight success.
“It’s not quite a day at a time [but] when a new coach comes in with new ideas it takes a little while,” Noble said.
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