Rhyce Shaw's AFL coaching future in doubt as Kangaroos grant personal leave
North Melbourne chairman Ben Buckley has confirmed senior coach Rhyce Shaw has taken time away from the club.
Shaw led the Kangaroos to three wins in his first full season in charge of the team but whether he returns ahead of the 2021 season remains in doubt.
The 39-year-old has been granted an extended period of leave and there is no timeline for a decision on his future.
“We have been acutely aware of speculation regarding our head coach, but we have not been in a position to say anything as we are respecting the wishes of Rhyce and his family,” Buckley wrote in a letter to members on Friday.
“Rhyce has asked for some time and space away from football and we have provided him support during this period.”
Shaw spoke about the challenges of the coronavirus-disrupted season before North’s final game of the year, paying tribute to his family.
“It’s been a really tough journey. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and what I need to do and how I need to approach certain situations,” he said last month.
“(The season) has been a disappointment, and it’s not one that I envisaged at the start of the year. It’s been a tough one on everyone. It’s been tough for my family.
“My wife Leah has done a fantastic job in supporting our two boys through this time and uplifting their lives to come and support me. It’s been really amazing.”
North began the off-season by informing 11 players and six coaches they would be let go, while star forward Ben Brown and veteran midfielder Shaun Higgins appear set to leave in the trade period.
“In no way can we afford to brush over what was a year below our standards,” Buckley said.
“While we know our team was restricted by injury which compromised our ability to field our best side, our performances were not at the level we expect.
“As a result, and like we do at the end of every year, we are looking at our football department structure, list-management, coaching panel, high-performance, and medical areas and programs in an effort to improve across the board.
“There has been change, and there will be more, but we are not going to apologise for trying to make this club better.”
North Melbourne recently hired Shaw’s former Sydney Swans colleague John Blakey as senior assistant coach.
The club has also been linked with premiership-winning coach Paul Roos, who could take on a number of roles across the coaching and football departments.
“I’m delighted John Blakey will be returning to his spiritual home for next season and beyond as senior assistant coach,” Buckley said.
“We will continue to add more resources and expertise to our coaching panel.”
The chairman also confirmed the Kangaroos will turn a “small” profit this year despite the significant financial challenges of the shorter season.
North Melbourne did not accept extra AFL assistance offered throughout the COVID-19 financial crisis.
The club expects to be clear of its last $400,000 of debt at the end of next year, accepting a delay to expand its Arden St base in part to accommodate the AFLW program.
- with AAP