Walls come down as Alastair Clarkson makes his presence known to the North Melbourne Kangaroos

Simpkin said he was surprised at how “funny” Clarkson was, thinking his largely serious, even fiery, public image was what he would generally be.

However, the four-time Premiership manager remains involved in an independent racism inquiry into events during his time at Hawthorn. Clarkson has denied all allegations against him and is cooperating with the investigation.

The Kangaroos are backing midfielder Tarryn Thomas, who has been charged by police with threatening to release an intimate image. The Kangaroos also announced last week that the 22-year-old with a suspended license had been caught driving under the influence over the Christmas break. He was due to appear in court last week but the case has been adjourned to a later date.

Both incidents were filed with the AFL’s Integrity Division.

“We’re always here to support Tarryn. Obviously this matter is in court – we can’t say too much about that. But Tarryn is a great kid. He’s as talented as anyone on our list. We’ll be there for him no matter what,” McDonald said.

Thomas returned to training on Monday, the former half-forward is now preparing to become a rebounding half-back.

“He worked a lot with the backline… he was great down there. Obviously, [he has] played more as a centre-forward, inside, but it just shows the flexibility in his game,” McDonald said.

North Melbourne back Tarryn Thomas with his off-field troubles

North Melbourne back Tarryn Thomas with his off-field troublesCredit:Getty Images

“He studies alongside Aaron Hall and has some serious tricks. He could be a real weapon for us off the half-back line.”

Thomas, who is under contract with the Roos until the end of 2024, only played 10 games last season and missed games due to poor form, injuries and holidays. His grandmother died last year.

The Kangaroos are also hoping their high-profile top pick in last year’s national draft will make an impact.

Harry Sheezel, No. 3 overall pick, has impressed in match practice in a deep forward role, but George Wardlaw, who is No. 4 pick, has been on a restricted programme.

Will Phillips, No. 3 in the 2020 national draft, is in line for a first-round return after a frustrating 2022 with glandular fever. The slick midfielder made his debut in 2021 but didn’t play at the AFL level last year and officiated just three VFL games.

Former Hawk Liam Shiels, a three-time Premiership player under Clarkson, has provided experience and nous on the training track, helping implement an attacking game plan which the Kangaroos hope can yield some much-needed wins after winning just nine of 61 combined has won games in the last three seasons.

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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/afl/architect-of-change-wall-crumbles-as-clarkson-makes-his-presence-felt-at-north-20230123-p5ceov.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport Walls come down as Alastair Clarkson makes his presence known to the North Melbourne Kangaroos

Ryan Sederquist

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