North Melbourne coach David Noble says his team wants the marquee fixture to themselves

North Melbourne coach David Noble has defended his team’s position in the marquee Good Friday game declaring their form shouldn’t be the deciding factor in getting on the big stage.

Noble said there had been an “honest” review of Saturday’s 59-point loss to Gold Coast as the Kangaroos remained winless amid external expectations of a bottom-two finish in 2021.

But Noble said Carlton had not been denied the opening match of the season against Richmond despite failing to make the finals since 2013.

Noble said it was “great exposure” for his young players to be involved in marquee matches, and he’d even like the Kangaroos to have the day to themselves as it was when the Good Friday game was launched in 2017.

North are sharing Good Friday with Adelaide to face Gold Coast in Adelaide.

“The club does a lot of work in the back-end, because it‘s such a significant and important game and the message is great in regard to financially supporting families who have got children that are unwell,” he said on Wednesday.

“We would have to go back to the AFL and say that we’d like to have this game on our own.

“We understand that if we were playing better, or if we were in a better position, that gives you more bargaining power. It gives you the ability to negotiate harder with the AFL. I don‘t think that should (be the case).

“If you go back to the start of the season, it‘s Carlton against Richmond. A few years ago, the Blues were struggling a bit. But it didn’t move. I’m not sure why that narrative is now just focused on us because we’ve got a young group coming through.

“It‘s great exposure for our young guys, to have that opportunity to play in those types of games.”

David Noble and the playing group have pledged to donate $50 to the @GoodFriAppeal for every new member that signs up before Good Friday.

Sign up now 👉 https://t.co/GaaWgnUwjl

The Kangaroos will welcome back midfield start Ben Cunnington for the clash against the Western Bulldogs, his first game since Round 5 last year.

The two-time best and fairest had back issues in 2020 and then had to overcome concussion more recently and Noble said his fitness was now at the level needed to return.

“The injury that he‘s had has been concussion, (but) the last couple of weeks it’s just been the load issue for us,” Noble said.

“I pushed pretty hard last week to bring him in.

“But based on just the speed of the game, which has ramped up a little bit, we just needed to have that one more week to get him going.”

Noble said his team had to respond after last week’s drubbing by the Suns which sent alarm bells ringing.

“The element that I think we learned from last week is that you have to be on point all the time,” he said.

“You‘ve got to bring that level of competitiveness.

“That‘s what our fans want to see; they want to come to Friday’s game and see us respond.”

Kyron Hayden (hamstring) is also in the mix to face the Bulldogs, while No.3 draft pick Will Phillips could debut.

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