Midfielder Jy Simpkin says the onus is on North Melbourne’s senior players to step up and find a way to lift the Kangaroos amid a tough season.
The Kangaroos are on a seven-game losing run, with their past five defeats by 50 points or more, and face reigning premiers Melbourne next.
Vice-captain Simpkin, who returns after missing the thumping loss to Port Adelaide through a combination of left hamstring tightness and a flu-like illness, said it was time for senior players to set the tone.
“I’d be lying if I said we were doing everything we can, we’re probably not leading as well as we should be for the younger boys around at the club, or on game day anyway,” Simpkin, 24, told reporters.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit with our own form so we need to get back out there and lead the way for the younger guys.
“Because the younger guys always look to the older people at the club and at the moment we’re probably not doing our job as best we could. So looking to bounce back with some form.”
Skipper Jack Ziebell, Luke McDonald, ruckman Todd Goldstein, Josh Walker, Aiden Corr, Jed Anderson and Kayne Turner were the only players over 25 against Port Adelaide.
“Obviously we’re not going great in the win-loss columns, but we have our measures and KPIs we’re looking to hit week in, week out,” he said.
“Obviously (with) a few older guys out at the moment, a lot of young guys are getting good games into them at the moment. It’s really positive inside the four walls.”
Last week, reports emerged No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis had parked contract extension talks until the end of the season, but Simpkin wasn’t concerned about what that meant.
“No, I’m not real worried to be honest,” he said.
“He comes in with a smile on his face and he gets around the boys and everyone loves him. So no reason to suspect why he wouldn’t stay with us
“The more good players you can have at your club the better your team’s going to go.
“So we’ve just got to keep doing the best we can and if we can keep guys like Jase playing well and getting some games into him, then he’s going to be the person that’s going to be taking us to that next level.”