North Melbourne Kangaroos, On the Couch, priority pick, assistance package, Gold Coast Suns, Jon Ralph, Nathan Buckley, out of contract

Are North Melbourne bad enough to receive another assistance package from the AFL?

The Kangaroos sunk to their 15th straight loss last weekend, and have now managed just 11 wins in four AFL seasons.

They’ve got some big calls to make on a host of players including veterans Todd Goldstein and Jack Ziebell, and out-of-contract big names like Ben McKay.

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Fox Footy’s Jon Ralph said the club was a “drag on the league” and it was clear they needed some help to turn their woes around.

“Their cry for help is extraordinary,” he said On the Couch.

“One single pick won’t do much.

“You can imagine whether it’s a mid-first rounder, maybe pick 11, or pick 11 and 19.

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“They need a package like what Gold Coast got over multiple seasons.

“They need some help – how much help is the issue.”

Out of contract players like Ben McKay, Todd Goldstein, Jack Ziebell, Liam Shiels, Aaron Hall, Daniel Howe, Aiden Bonar, Jack Mahony, Lachie Young and Kayne Turner could all be on the chopping block, according to Ralph.

Despite being contracted for next season, Ralph believes veteran Ben Cunnington is also in the mix to be moved on in a list cull.

Fox Footy’s Nathan Buckley has questioned just how bad a side had to be to qualify for a priority pick or extra assistance.

“There’s no clear direction or measure on when a team deserve a priority pick. Is it length of time at the bottom? Is it how bad your last season was or your last two? They’ve already had priority picks at the end of last year … but they were forced to trade them,” he explained.

But Buckley was quick to point out West Coast’s woes have been worse than North Melbourne’s the past two seasons.

“Does your finances off the field change your qualification for priority?” he questioned.

“Their two years have been worse than North Melbourne’s last two years.”

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The former Magpies mentor said he did not believe North Melbourne were entitled to another AFL handout.

“Is the reverse draft order not a way or equalisation? Make better decisions. No (to a priority pick).”

Ralph revealed North Melbourne CEO Jen Watt had met with incoming AFL boss Andrew Dillon where “part of the discussions were about a priority pick or assistance package”.

“You can expect by the end of the year will ask for a compelling package,” he said.

The Roos have managed just 11 wins in 67 games – compared to the 23 games across five years the Sus won that saw them handed pick one (Matt Rowell) and picked 11, 19 and 20 as assistance.

Interim coach Brett Ratten, who is coaching in the absence of Alastair Clarkson on his mental health break, touched on the priority pick debate in his post-match press conference.

“The gap between where we are and where Hawthorn was, was the skill level – the fundamentals of the game, picking the ball up, executing handball, finding target,” he said.

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“We can hide from the fact we were poor or we can actually do something about it.

“We’ll leave that (assistance plea) up to Jen and everybody that deals with that.

“Are these discussions taking place? I think so, yep.”

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