FOUR-TIME premiership coach Leigh Matthews drilled into his troops that anything longer than four weeks ago was ancient history. One of his former charges, North Melbourne coach Brad Scott, is determined to prove that tonight when his side takes on Collingwood at Etihad Stadium.
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Just ask in-form Kangaroo Sam Gibson. North plays the Pies for the first time this year after 87-point and 117-point thrashings from Collingwood last year – but those defeats are now distant memories. ”Collingwood are a very good side and we are acutely aware of that,” Gibson said.

”We won’t focus too much on what they’re going to do. We’ll just make sure that we’re playing the game style we want to play and we’ll do our best to nullify them as a whole.

”We’ve addressed a few things that perhaps didn’t go right for us last year and we’ll try to rectify that and put in a good performance.”

Indeed, North Melbourne, sitting sixth, has come a long way since the start of the season. Scott publicly blasted his side after its two-point loss to Port Adelaide in round eight, saying it was the first time he had questioned his team’s effort.

Gibson hadn’t made his AFL debut then (that came in round 12 and since then the side has only lost one match). But he knows the team seized Scott’s words and has been determined that its effort will never be questioned again.

After years of being ”denied in the draft”, North recruited Gibson last year from Hawthorn VFL affiliate Box Hill, where he was captain.

”Having seen what it’s like to not be in the system and wanting to be in the system, I know I’m going to try to do everything I can to stay there,” he said.

”I’ve always had a bit of confidence in my ability but you never really know when you get, I guess, denied in draft after draft. You just have those … worries that perhaps you weren’t cut out to play AFL.

”But I don’t see myself as anything special. I just go out and play a role for the side and am just happy that I can be in a successful side at the minute.”

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