Andrew Swallow says new sense of self-belief will push squad further in 2013.If the North Melbourne Kangaroos make waves this AFL season, you can point to a game at the end of 2012 as being the catalyst.
Heading into their round 21 clash against Collingwood, the Kangaroos were on the cusp of making the finals for the first time in four years.
But to get the monkey off their backs they had to defeat perennial competition favourites Collingwood, which they did in breaking a four match losing streak against the Magpies.
However, the jubilation of that win was soon worn off when they were destroyed by West Coast by 96 points in the elimination finals.
Despite the differences in those experiences, North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow believes the Kangaroos are ready to break out of the pack and become a top five contender this year.
“Look, it’s a new season, so anything can happen, but hopefully the confidence we got out of beating Collingwood last year will help us,” Swallow said.
“We hadn’t beaten them for a long time and we had struggled at times against the top four sides.
“But you get confidence out of knowing we matched it with them last year and we know we have improved from that.
“It probably doesn’t get much bigger for us than taking on Collingwood in round one.”
In what will be his second year in the captain’s role, Swallow said he had a better grasp on what it entails while also maintaining his own levels of play.
Collingwood have been working hard on the culture within the club this off-season, with the man accredited with the changes happy with what he has seen.
Leading Teams boss Ray McLean, who is credited with establishing the ‘Bloods’ culture at the Sydney Swans, said clubs need to be honest with themselves if they want to achieve their goals.
“I think Nathan is just driven to find any way he can to improve the team,” McLean said.
“He is a strong believer in empowering the players and my take on it was he wanted assistance with that.
“Perhaps the capacity of the players to be rigorous with one another, they realised that had dropped away.”
Collingwood was forced to discipline several of its players last year, including Travis Cloake repeatedly parking in the CEO’s parking space and Dane Swan for giving an unauthorised interview.