The North Melbourne Kangaroos have been dealt a blow ahead of the new season after learning that rookie Oscar Junker will be sidelined for four months with a broken tibia. The 19-year old was selected 28th overall in the draft but now won’t be able to make his full debut for the Roos until round seven, at the earliest, due to an injury sustained in North’s practice clash against Werribee following an awkward landing. While the initial fears were that Junker had suffered an ankle issue, scans revealed that the midfielder had, in fact, fractured his leg, ruling him out for as long as four months.Â
The injury comes after the 19-year old had been enjoying an extremely promising first pre-season at Arden Street, showing just why the Kangaroos worked so hard to take the youngster to Docklands. Having co-captained the Western Jets in last year’s TAC Cup, the 193cm midfielder was selected 28th in last year’s NAB AFL Rookie Draft. Capable of playing in a host of positions, Junker had really caught the eye during the early stages of pre-season, and the Roos will be desperately hoping to have the rookie back in action sooner rather than laterÂ following his setback.Â
“Docklands Stadium, Melbourne“Â (CC BY-SA 2.0)Â byÂ Terrazzo
North have been hit with a string of injuries since Christmas, losing Jed Anderson, Ben Brown and Majak Daw in recent weeks. While all three will miss a large chunk of pre-season, all are expected to be back in contention by the start of the new AFL campaign, in which the Roos will start with odds of 9/4 with bet365 to finish in the top eight for a fourth straight season. For Junker, though, the rest of pre-season and the early stages of the new year will be spent rehabilitating from his injury, with the club’s round 7 clash against Adelaide being targeted as his potential belated debut.
Having lost experienced pros Brent Harvey, Nick Dal Santo, Michael Firrito and Drew Petrie, it’s been a summer of change at Docklands. With a new emphasis on youth, head coach Brad Scott will be under no illusions that many feel this will be a season of transition for the Roos, one which may not see the club able to compete with the likes of Greater Western Sydney, the Bulldogs and the other frontrunners for the title in 2017.Â
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While there have been some key losses during the offseason, there has also been the addition of a number of exciting new players, none more so than former Western Bulldog Nathan Hrovat. The half forward made an instant impression for North, scoring four goals in the Roos’ pre-season win over Werribee and finishing with 17 touches. One of those veterans still at the club, Jarrad Waite, also produced a very impressive performance against the VFL side, booting three goals and looking very lively against a strong Werribee team.Â
So, despite the departures of Harvey, Dal Santo, Firrito and Petrie, there are certainly a few reasons North fans should feel excited about the new season.Â