'Roos roll out rookies for Blues clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Roos roll out rookies for Blues clash

By Robert Grant 19/02/2009 05:50:58 PM Comments (0)

North Melbourne will debut three rookies in the NAB Cup opener against Carlton on Friday - a match coach Dean Laidley admits is low on the side's list of priorities.

On-baller Liam Anthony, small forward Cruize Garlett and midfielder Jack Ziebell will line up in their first game for the club.

Laidley considers the NAB Cup just useful practice, saying the Kangaroos are concentrating on their "pretty heavy" training schedule in preparation for the opening round of the season.

"As much as it's a great competition we've disregarded the games for our training programs," Laidley said on Thursday.

"We're all aiming for round one. It's a great competition and the longer you can stay in it the better it is because it helps your preparation with the grounds and the opposition.

"But we've still got a pretty heavy workload at the moment."

But he is looking forward to blooding the three youngsters on the list.

"Ziebell has been running well in the past three or four months and he'll be given an opportunity tomorrow night which will be great for our supporters," he said.

"Liam Anthony and Cruize Garlett will definitely play their first games.

"Cruize has been here a year, he's still a rookie and played in the All-Star game a couple of weeks ago and I thought he was pretty good."

Aaron Edwards remains sidelined due to an off-field indiscretion which has left him unavailable until round five of the regular season, while Jesse Smith will not play until the following week.

For the first time the AFL will use new rules - which are usually trialled only in the NAB Cup - in the NAB Challenge Series, which is for teams that have been knocked out of the pre-season competition.

There is speculation the change has been made because the league plans to introduce new rules in the regular season.

Laidley said he was confident his players would not get confused by the changes, which include the controversial rushed behind penalty.

"I think the players adapt pretty easily," Laidley said.

"They're trained, the umpires come out, the coaches talk to them.

"I think they look for change, particularly young guys. They want change and they expect change."

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