NORTH Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell is in better shape coming out of the AFL season shutdown than he was for round one, according to coach Rhyce Shaw.
Ziebell has impressed Shaw this week, as has the general fitness of the squad in their return to Arden St, with the coach describing them as “sharp”.
The captain suffered a medial ligament strain in their opening round win over St Kilda but is set to be available for round two which gets underway June 11.
Shaw said that the season lockdown had worked in the tough midfielder’s favour.
“(Jack) Ziebell is going really well; he’s in a better position than he was going into round one after an interrupted pre-season,” Shaw said on Wednesday.
“He’s had the chance to rehab his knee and he’s been running for a good four or five weeks now, which is a bit longer than he had going into round one.
“He trained fully yesterday and the way he moved yesterday, I was really pleased.”
The rookie coach said his players were itching to get back into contact work when permitted from next Monday, although he was wary of doing too much, too soon.
“The boys are ready to get into that real quick but we have to be smart about it with a slow build-up.
“We’ll start off a bit slow but it’s going to be hard to keep them back.”
Shaw was asked about a possible increase from four on the interchange bench, with the AFL still to announce match format details.
Shaw, who played 237 games with Collingwood and Sydney, said he didn’t want to see any further changes.
“I’m a bit of a traditionalist in that regard and I’m happy with where it sits right now,” he said.
“Shorter quarters – that’s a bit of change – still with the 90 rotations, so I’m happy.
“Whether it suits us or not, I’m not sure … it provides a different spectacle when it’s survival of the fittest.”
(C) AAP 2020