Majak pushing for early return
North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw says Majak Daw's return to senior football is drawing closer after a positive summer.
The high-leaping defender in the mix to feature in at least one of the Kangaroos' two pre-season matches.
"We'll have a look at that over the next few weeks," Shaw said at the Kangaroos' season launch last night.
"Maj is in really good nick and looking really well. I'm hoping he can play a part in the Marsh Cup."
Daw has hardly missed a session this summer and with Scott Thompson having retired and recruit Josh Walker still easing into the summer after long-running knee issues, there is clearly a spot in defence for the intercept marker.
Any fears the Roos might have had over Daw's lost touch were put to rest by dominant intra-club displays in recent weeks ahead of the February 21 Marsh Community Series clash against the Western Bulldogs.
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However, Jack Ziebell is unlikely to feature in either of those pre-season matches as he continues to manage a niggling calf injury.
"He's at that stage of his career where we don't want to take any risks with it, especially this time of the year," Shaw said.
"We're really confident that he'll play a part early in the season."
Shaw put the pressure on his side by declaring anything short of a finals appearance in 2020 would be a failure.
He said he would not shy away from lofty expectations the Kangaroos had set themselves after a confidence-boosting second half of last season under his leadership.
Asked if it was finals or failure for the Kangaroos this season, Shaw did not back away.
"We've got really high expectations of ourselves," he said.
"We've been speaking about it for the whole of pre-season and I think it's really important for our players to know what's expected both from a club point of view and from themselves.
"I've got great belief in the playing group. I see a really strong group of men that, I think, can push a lot of teams and ultimately play finals footy."
The Roos won eight of its final 13 games last season to miss the top eight by just two games and enters this year with a raft of emerging young talent including four Rising Star nominees from 2019.
"I think they took a lot of belief out of the back half of last year and what they can actually do and we played some pretty good sides last year and won a few of those games as well," Shaw said.
"We're really looking forward to seeing what they can do for a full 22 rounds and finals after that."
Meanwhile, ex-Gold Coast wingman Aaron Hall is in slashing training form after a poor first year that also included a stint on the sidelines through mental health issues.
Handed a four-year deal to move to the Roos, Shaw has already spoken of his determination to find a key role for the hard-running onballer.
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Fourth-year midfielder Jy Simpkin has also enjoyed an excellent summer after his breakout 2019 season, while draftees Charlie Comben and Jack Mahony could win Marsh series game time after strong pre-season form.
Jack Ziebell was last night confirmed as North Melbourne captain for a fourth season, with Robbie Tarrant and Shaun Higgins appointed joint vice-captains.
Jy Simpkin, Jamie MacMillan, Ben Cunnington, Jasper Pittard and Trent Dumont round out an eight-man leadership group.