New crisis hits Roos as more staff leave

Three scouts left North Melbourne a week before the mid-season draft in yet another crisis for the struggling AFL club.

Kangaroos national scouting director Mark Finnigan and player personnel chief Glenn Luff resigned on Tuesday, while fellow member Ben Birthisel left last week.

It is understood that Finnigan will join Hawthorn.

Their departures, amid unconfirmed reports that they were frustrated with the club, left football boss Brady Rawlings and veteran AFL scout Scott Clayton as the only members of their full-time recruitment staff.

The exodus comes amid reports that last year’s first draft pick Jason Horne-Francis has been contacted by the club for taking an interstate trip without North’s knowledge.

Horne-Francis flew to Adelaide for Mother’s Day after their eighth round loss to Fremantle and after a succession of steals in a short period he missed the ninth round with a hamstring strain.

The young star has suspended contract negotiations with the club until the end of the season.

North wallows second-to-bottom on the ladder with just one win in 10 games and leads West Coast in percentage.

They haven’t reached the final since 2016 and second-year manager David Noble had to defend himself earlier this month after news broke of a post-match spray he had given his players .

Details of what happened immediately after their loss to Brisbane by 108 points in the third round have leaked to the media.

“The intention was correct, I think there is still room to be direct and firm with your group of players, but the delivery was probably not the right time,” Noble said.

“We all get emotional at that time.”

Noble added that some of the Kangaroos’ younger players were upset that the stern address was not true, as far as he knew.

Noble also denied reports there had been a major change to his game plan, with North’s only win of the year so far against a depleted West Coast side in the second round.

Following this latest drama, Rawlings said Tuesday night that North is ready for the midseason draft despite losing all three staff members.

But he admitted it was a setback.

“I don’t think there is ever a perfect time to lose staff. It’s always a challenge,” Rawlings told 3AW.

“We’re really well prepared (for the draft)… there’s nothing that’s going to change between now and next Wednesday that’s going to affect everything we do for pre-season.”

He added that Birthisel had been approached to leave the AFL industry and left with his blessing.

Finnigan had been at Arden St for 17 years while Birthisel joined over a decade ago with Luff at the Kangaroos in 2018.


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