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North Melbourne priority pick, Alastair Clarkson return date, senior coach, assistance from league, list

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North Melbourne has endured a “wasted year”, with the issue of AFL draft assistance now pressing, AFL 360 co-hosts Gerard Whateley and Mark Robinson believe.

Senior coach Alastair Clarkson is expected to return to his role before the end of the season, but the four-time premiership coach cast doubt on his exact return date when he spoke to media on Tuesday.

“I’ve been involved in the game for a long period of time and it does take its toll. I found out that the hard way,” he said, referencing his personal leave from the club as the Hawthorn racism investigation took its toll on his physical and mental health.

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“It’s a little disrespectful I feel if I just walk back into the club and just expect (to coach). I need to find out what’s been going on and what the lay of the land is.

“It might be that I don’t coach again this year, but it’s probably more likely that it’ll be later rather than sooner.

“That’s still ongoing and that will probably take some time, but what I’m more interested in now is getting my feet back under the desk here.”

North Melbourne sits second-last on the ladder after 18 rounds and has endured 15 straight losses after back-to-back wins to open the season.

The Roos received two future draft picks ahead of last year’s trade period on the proviso they were traded out.

Another request for AFL assistance is set to occur this year – something Robinson believes is valid.

“I think we can’t have teams so miserable like North Melbourne is … we can‘t have North Melbourne have another 20 weeks like this. It’s not good for anyone,” he said on AFL 360.

“You need draft picks into your list. You need to get draft picks in to get top-end talent.

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“Something like that (middle of round one selection). It’s such a vexed issue, I haven’t got an answer, but I think 20 is too long and pick two or three is too short. You need top-end talent. Don’t get run of the mill players, you’ve gotta get gun players into this team.”

Whateley noted many of the key decision-makers that saw the Kangaroos become “the architects of their own demise” are no longer at the club, which would lend itself to a successful bid for help.

Clarkson’s absence, he said, had also left the club stuck in the first year of its rebuild despite the appointment of the sought-after senior coach.

“Not through the hope of the way they set it up, but yes, it has been (a wasted year) because whatever Clarkson was going to build across that first 12 months – and whether he actually has all the information he wants to make decisions at the end of the year – I think, without apportioning any blame, yes,” he said.

“I like Kingy’s (David King) analogy; this is a club on hold. They’re waiting. I’m not a believer in a wasted year but I believe these circumstances have totally conspired against North Melbourne and the restart.

“Really, their restart begins next year.”

AFL CEO-elect Andrew Dillon said when asked about the prospect of draft assistance: “I think we showed last year that there are different ways of doing it, it’s not necessarily picks at the front-end of the draft which have happened historically.”

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