North determined to topple AFL rivals

Ben Cunnington (r) misses out as the Kangaroos look to reverse their AFL fortunes against Essendon.
Ben Cunnington (r) misses out as the Kangaroos look to reverse their AFL fortunes against Essendon.

North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw has put his foot down and declared it is time for the Kangaroos to end their AFL drought against rivals Essendon.

The Roos enter Saturday's crucial round-six clash at Metricon Stadium having lost their last four games against the Bombers.

Not since the 2016 season, when John Worsfold was at the helm of a club torn apart by the supplements saga, have North been able to defeat Essendon.

The Roos' promising 2-0 start to this season is now a distant memory after three straight losses, but a genuine rivalry encounter could be just what they need to kick them into gear.

"This rivalry has been going on for a long time. I've come into this footy club with knowledge of what it means; our players understand what it means," Shaw said.

"They've had the wood over us for a while now and it's time to turn the tables if we can.

"They've got some really strong players across the board and I'm really confident our guys can do the job.

"They should be really worried about us at certain points as well - it's not just one way."

North will have to do without hard-nosed midfielders Ben Cunnington (back) and Jack Ziebell (hamstring) on Saturday evening.

After taking a sore Cunnington into last Saturday's 49-point defeat to the Western Bulldogs, the Roos will tread carefully with the 29-year-old and are yet to confirm when he will return.

Essendon have injury concerns of their own, with star forward Jake Stringer (ankle) facing up to three months on the sidelines.

Stringer's absence, along with that of Joe Daniher, means the Bombers will be without their leading goal-kickers from the past six seasons.

However, Essendon (3-1) head into their 'home' game on the Gold Coast with a chance to jump into the top-four fresh off a 15-point upset of Collingwood.

Dashing defender Conor McKenna has been included for his first AFL game since his coronavirus scare, while two-time best-and-fairest winner Zach Merrett returns from suspension.

Australian Associated Press