North Melbourne coach Brad Scott says he has to leave battered skipper Jack Ziebell out of their AFL clash with Essendon to protect him from himself.
Scott said Ziebell had been carrying multiple injuries for a number of weeks and needed a match off to recover, so would sit out Saturday afternoon’s Etihad Stadium match.
The Kangaroos’ coach said if it was up to his combative first-year captain, he would play, so he took the decision out of his hands.
“We just need to leave Jack Ziebell out this week. He needs to be protected from himself,” Scott said on Thursday.
“He’s just battered and we’ll manage him this week, much to his disgust but, as I said to Jack, if he was on crutches, he’d still want to go out there and lead the team.
“I haven’t seen anyone in my time in footy do what he’s been able to do so far this year, in terms of carrying things that would keep lesser players out and it’s not just one thing – it’s a multitude of things.
“He’s just not doing himself or the team any favours so I’ve had to make the call.”
Mason Wood and Marley Williams are also out, while ruckman Braydon Preuss is also very doubtful, but veteran forward Jarrad Waite is set to return from a calf injury.
Preuss’ back complaint means Scott will continue with out-of-form first-choice ruckman Todd Goldstein.
Scott said he wanted to try to help Goldstein rediscover his All Australian form but didn’t have many options.
“Clearly, we’re hamstrung with Preuss – we’d like to get Braydon in but it’s enormously frustrating to us and to him as well that he’s not fit and available,” Scott said.
“Goldy sets really high standards for himself and, if he’s not going to get up to the level, then I’ve got to work out a way to get him back to his All Australian form because clearly he’s not happy with the way he’s playing and neither are we.”
North have had a disappointing season to sit second last but have a strong record against their geographical neighbours, who are just outside the eight in 10th spot.
Scott said it was a game his team usually lifted for.
“We always enjoy playing them and I’m sure they enjoy playing us too as there’s great history,” he said.
“There’s always been a rivalry there but they’ve been in really good touch and we’re going to have to be at our best to be competitive.”