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Gibson's return to help North's backline

By Leonard Siragusa 15/05/2008 07:50:55 PM Comments (0)

The return of Josh Gibson from a knee injury will give North Melbourne's under-siege defence a welcome reprieve in Saturday night's clash with West Coast on the Gold Coast.

The Kangaroos backline, which has been unsettled in recent weeks, was horribly exposed by Adelaide in round seven, as Jason Porplyzia helped the Crows kick eight goals to one in a crushing third-quarter display.

But midfielder Brady Rawlings said Gibson's comeback would lift the team's confidence in a re-worked back six.

"He's reliable, probably more reliable than any bloke who's played 20-25 games that I've ever played with," Rawlings said.

"I love having him down there, he's one on our leaders down there to his credit with his lack of experience.

"He's tough, he uses the ball well and you know he's going to give you 100 per cent and they're the sort of blokes you want in the backline along with (Michael) Firrito and (Drew) Petrie."

But the `Roos will again have to make do with a weakened backline, after losing Daniel Pratt to a groin injury, while former Central Districts premiership defender Alan Obst will play his first match for the club.

Obst, 20, has been elevated from the rookie list to replace the injured Leigh Adams, who has succumbed to a season-ending knee injury.

But Rawlings said he sensed during last weekend's break the team was desperate to atone for the loss to Adelaide, and would come out against the Eagles breathing fire after copping a massive cook from coach Dean Laidley.

"Our third quarter was just unacceptable and he (Laidley) let us know about that and he made sure it would stick in our guts for a couple of weeks, which it definitely has," he said.

"You can tell by the way the guys have been training, they definitely want to come out and rectify it by having a good game against the Eagles."

With prime-movers Brent Harvey, Adam Simpson and Shannon Grant carrying most of the workload and Sam Power, Ed Lower and himself assigned to negating roles, Rawlings admitted Daniel Wells and Daniel Harris had to pull more of their weight in the midfield.

"Wells and Harris have got to start taking over and being the front-runners rather than these blokes doing it every week," Rawlings said.

"Harvey, Simpson and Grant have been doing that for the last 10 years.

"They've been shouldering the load and they should be the cream on the top and the drive should be coming from us blokes."

While West Coast are on the cusp of recording a club record seven straight losses, they could take heart from past performances against the Roos.

The Eagles have won seven of the past eight meetings with the Kangaroos.

"They'll probably take a lot of confidence out of playing us in the last five or six years," Rawlings said.

The `Roos have included Allan Obst for his first game after being elevated from the rookie list.

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