Suspension may prove a blessing for Harvey
North Melbourne's Brent Harvey. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
NORTH Melbourne hopes Brent Harvey's delayed start to the season will ensure the veteran midfielder is in mint condition for the latter part of the campaign.
Harvey will sit out the opening six matches because of his suspension after the elimination final-loss to the West Coast Eagles.
He did not participate in the Kangaroos' altitude camp in Utah, opting to work on his fitness at home.
His attitude and work ethic were as strong as ever before be began an extended Christmas break because of his reshaped pre-season campaign.
''Boomer [Harvey] is tracking really well. He is on holidays at the minute. Because he is a fossil, he gets some extra time off,'' joked Kangaroos vice-captain Jack Ziebell.
''He doesn't miss a beat, whether he is at the club or away from the club. He is the ultimate professional. He has been working as hard as he ever has.''
Ziebell said Harvey, while no longer captain, still had an important role to play in ushering through a list that has undergone considerable change.
''He is going to be fantastic for the young guys who have just come in. There are eight or nine - when you think there are 46 guys on the list, it's quite a chunk of the list,'' he said.
''For those guys to have someone like Boomer to draw upon with his experience, it's invaluable.''
Champion Data analysis has found the Kangaroos have the toughest draw next season, as they face Geelong, Collingwood, Adelaide and Hawthorn twice.
Harvey, who finished third in the best-and-fairest count last season, will miss six matches, with the Kangaroos to begin their campaign against Collingwood, Geelong, Sydney, Brisbane Lions, Hawthorn and Port Adelaide.
Ziebell said the delayed start would hopefully mean Harvey, the club's games record-holder and a five-time best and fairest, was fresh later in the season at a time when players were often tiring.
''He could be just starting to wind up. It could actually be quite important for us next year,'' he said.
''As disappointing as it is for him to miss six weeks at the start of the year, it gives a young guy an opportunity. And Boomer being the guy that he is, he won't take a back-seat role, he will be helping everyone out.''