AFL great Wayne Carey has backed in North Melbourne’s strategic move to stay firm in Tasmania – even should it include the possibility of the club’s eventual relocation.
Carey just could not speak highly enough of his ex-side’s heightened Tasmanian presence in a visit to Launceston for the annual Champions of Sport function on Friday.
The retired 272-game forward supports the decision to further increase the Roos’ number of home games in Hobart, not ruling out either to expand into Launceston once Hawthorn’s contract expires at the end of 2021.
North Melbourne entered a three-year deal to play at Bellerive Oval twice a season from 2012, before extending that to three games in 2015 and four for 2019.
“I love it – it’s become a fortress for them here in Tassie,” Carey told The Examiner.
“Their record down here is unbelievable, so clearly they love playing here.
“The one thing is that the Kangaroos have always been forward in their thinking.
“They pushed into Sydney years ago, they tried it out in Canberra and Gold Coast, but I think they’re settled in Tassie for the long haul.
“I think it’s a great thing for Tasmania. I know there is a lot of conjecture about it.
“I know all Tasmanians and I was one of the believers that there should have been a team put down here.
“The fact is there hasn’t been, so the Kangaroos playing more games here is great.
“We’d just like the Tasmanian people to get behind it and one day if they are a Tassie team, I just think this sets them up beautifully for that.”
Former two-time premiership teammate Glenn Archer first declared his hand to The Examiner in January 2017 speaking as a club board member to retain Hawthorn in the North of the state and the Roos in the South.
The AFL’s “independent” Garlick report, released in 2016, proposed for a one-team model in Tasmania to play up to eight games a year in Hobart and Launceston.
North has since built their Next Generation Academy in the state and AFL Tasmania has also signed up to an alignment with the Kangaroos’ AFLW side next year.
Carey felt the arrangement with Tasmania was more sustainable to others in Sydney, Canberra and Gold Coast.
“You’d hope so,” he said.
“The fact that they have got that academy now, you’re really grooming kids for the game just like they have in Queensland and Sydney with all their academies.
“Some of the kids they [Sydney] have brought out of their academy have just been unbelievable to be honest.
“We know the rich history that Tasmania has got with wonderful players they’ve produced over the years.
“To have that academy set up and have them set up to go straight into the AFL, I think is sensational.”
Carey was at the Country Club Tasmania with fellow retired player Billy Brownless, race trainer Peter Moody and cricketer George Bailey as guest speakers of the Hadspen Cricket Club luncheon.
Cricket Australia had put up a media ban on Bailey from speaking to either The Examiner or WIN TV despite the Longford-raised cricketer talking in front of hundreds of others on Friday.