Roos primed for challenge

MELBOURNE - It's time for North Melbourne to show something more than just potential.

Key forward Drew Petrie, who will lead the side in their AFL round one clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, says a repeat of last year's performances won't be good enough.

The additions of triple All-Australian midfielder and ex-Saint Nick Dal Santo and No.8 draft pick Luke McDonald have helped convince pundits the Kangaroos are surging into finals calculations in 2014.

"The expectations have come mainly externally," Petrie said on Thursday.

"It's a compliment in a way that football people expect us to go well given how they analyse our list.

"We know we're in our fifth season under Brad Scott and given how much better we played last year, it's about time we do take another step again.

"We're definitely a better team than what we were last season. Hopefully we've improved more than the other teams."

North finished 10th last season and has played one final under Scott, in 2012.

Scott is banking on a group of second-tier players to emerge as genuine match-winners to complement the likes of Dal Santo, five-time club champion Brent Harvey and two-time club champion Daniel Wells.

Petrie says while Friday night will be a tough encounter against finals contenders Essendon, the Kangaroos urgently need a good start to the season.

"We haven't won a round one game in a lot of years," said Petrie, who will lead the side in the absence of injured skipper Andrew Swallow.

Petrie says North's pre-season losses to Carlton and Hawthorn came during a heavy training phase.

North lost 10 matches by 16 points or less in 2013 and finished with a percentage of 119.5, the sixth-best in the league.

Petrie says McDonald, the 19-year-old son of ex-Kangaroos' forward Donald McDonald, will add some steel to North's defence.

"He's pretty competitive. He's got a bit of aggression like his old man had," Petrie said. - AAP 

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