Jack Ziebell headed back to Kangaroos' backline

Former North Melbourne skipper Jack Ziebell will attempt to remodel himself as a defender under new coach Alastair Clarkson this season.

Ziebell enters the new campaign free of captaincy duties for the first time in six years, having handed over to Jy Simpkin and Luke McDonald last month.

It has allowed the 31-year-old veteran to focus on honing his craft in a new-look back-line, where he will line-up alongside boom recruit Griffin Logue.

Ziebell made his name as a tough midfielder and has played the majority of his 258 AFL games in the engine room.

But he also played in defence during David Noble's first year as coach in 2021 before spending more time forward last year.

"Clarko sees me playing my role down back a little bit this year, which I'm really looking forward to," Ziebell said.

"Every year is a challenge to reinvent yourself as a player and I think it's important to do that, especially later in your career, to try to make yourself stay relevant and continue to get a game.

"I lost a few kilos in the off-season working with the fitness guys, which enabled me to pretty much do every session so far this pre-season.

"It's the first time for a few years that I've been able to do that."

Ziebell won't be the only player tweaking his role under master coach Clarkson, who has set about implementing a fresh game plan to lift the Kangaroos up the ladder after three seasons in the doldrums.

Powerful forward Cam Zurhaar - one of North's top two goal-kickers in each of the last four seasons - is preparing to spend more time through the midfield.

"Cam's had an outstanding pre-season and I think he's starting to get a level of maturity in his game, as well," Ziebell said.

"He's understanding the ability to be able to kick the big goals in the big moments but also his ability to bring his teammates into the game is something that's really stood out for me this pre-season.

"He's been a great teammate so far and I'm looking forward to him getting up the ground a little bit more and a bit more involved in the game, but hopefully he can still have a big impact around goals."

Ziebell is excited by the addition of key position player Logue - traded in from Fremantle last October - who adds versatility to the Kangaroos' back-line along with Aidan Corr and Ben McKay.

"We'll all probably play some different roles - some rebounding, some intercepting and some (shutdown) jobs we'll have to do as well," Ziebell said.

"The flexibility we'll have in the back six is going to be really exciting."