North Melbourne has launched a fierce defense of under-fire senior coach David Noble, with the club’s CEO flanking him during his weekly press conference in a show of support.
Noble has come under immense pressure to retain his position following the Kangaroos’ 1-9 start to the season, which has come amid reports of player unrest.
The Kangaroos’ struggles were exacerbated this week with the departure of three of the club’s recruiting staff just days out from the mid-season draft.
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However, Kangaroos CEO Ben Amarfio poured water on suggestions that there were serious fractures within the club, saying the entire staff is united.
“I speak to the players, our coaches speak to the players … the players are happy. They are happy. That’s what they are telling us. They are highly engaged,” he said.
“I can only go on what the players and the captain are saying to us. The coach has our backing, he has my backing, he has the board’s backing and, as you’ve heard, he’s got the players’ backing. They’ re saying they’re happy, they’re saying he’s created a great environment, they’re saying they’re enjoying coming here. He’s our man.”
Noble hit out at recent reports regarding his relationship with his players, labeling the stories “substantially untrue”.
“I took this job on understanding that there would be difficult times. I’m here for the long haul. I want our club to be successful and strong,” Noble said.
“All of the things that get misreported from outside, it’s just not true … (things like) relationships between the players, relationship between the coaches, that I was directed by the club to apologise. They are all untrue. Substantially untrue.
“I wish people would stop reporting them, because they’re not true. I don’t know how many times I have to say it, that our players are engaged and our players are moving forward and our coaches are terrific.
“I’ve got a great relationship with our coaches in where we’re going and I’ve got a great relationship with our CEO and the board, understanding exactly where we’re going. For the last time, we are moving forward together Yes, it’s challenging. You know why it’s challenging at times? Because building high-performance is difficult.
“Where we’re building from, it needs to be rigorous. You need to have debate and you need to challenge. Players become unhappy when they’re not in form and they’re not in the team. We get that. We’ re clear with our information as to how you get better. But I’m here for the challenge and I’m not going anywhere.”
North Melbourne’s prized No.1 pick Jason Horne-Francis has also been in the news this week after reports that he was spoken to after not informing the club about a trip to South Australia for Mother’s Day.
Speculation is rife surrounding the 18-year-old’s future at the club after he knocked back contract discussions until the end of the year, but Noble insists all is well.
“It’s not an unusual situation for a first-round player to not sign his contract … that is not an unusual circumstance. I’m sorry, but I don’t see that as an issue,” he said.
“The club didn’t know that he went home. He didn’t get into trouble, he wasn’t suspended, we say down with him and said there’s protocols because what happens if he’s drug tested and we don’t know his whereabouts , the club actually gets finished.”
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