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Ziebell hits 250 AFL games at tough time

Captain Jack Ziebell’s 250-game milestone will come at the end of another torrid week at North Melbourne.

Three of their recruiting staff have left a week out from the mid-season draft, plunging the struggling Kangaroos into fresh crisis.

Also, their No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis, who has put off contract talks with the club until the end of the season, was spoken to for taking an interstate trip without North’s knowledge.

Horne-Francis flew to Adelaide for Mother’s Day after their round-eight loss to Fremantle and after a succession of flights in a short period, he missed round nine with hamstring tightness.

North are wallowing at second-last on the ladder with only one win from 10 games and Ziebell will reach his milestone on Saturday against resurgent St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.

Now Kangaroos national recruiting manager Mark Finnigan and head of player personnel Glenn Luff have quit the club, while colleague Ben Birthisel left last week.

They have not made the finals since 2016 and second-year coach David Noble had to defend himself earlier this month after news broke of a post-game spray he had given his players.

Details of what happened immediately after they lost to Brisbane by 108 points in round three were leaked to the media.

But Ziebell strongly backed Noble, saying the coach was laying strong foundations for the club.

North have not made the finals since 2016 and Noble is their third senior coach in four years.

“I get the sentiment from the outside, the way he goes about it,” Ziebell said of Noble.

“But the way, for me, he’s been coaching has been fantastic.

“We’re learning plenty of lessons now that are going to hold us in really good stead in the next 12, 18, 24 months.”

Ziebell has been at North for all his AFL career and considers himself fortunate.

“It’s been a great journey and I’ve had some fantastic memories along the way, and (there are) hopefully a few more coming through.”

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