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Noble still firm with North players

Kangaroos coach David Noble has defended his recent verbal spray, but not the timing of it. (AAP)

North Melbourne coach David Noble believes there is still a place for frank discussion with modern AFL players despite apologising to his team for delivering a withering spray.

Details of the events that followed the 108-point thrashing from Brisbane in round three came to light through the media this week, leaving Noble disappointed the information was leaked.

On Wednesday, the second-year coach conceded he erred in the heat of the moment at the Gabba and broke his own rule by addressing players too soon after the match.

But Noble insisted the Kangaroos, who sit second-last after a horror 1-7 start to the season, have heeded lessons from the incident and moved on as a group.

"We can't ask the players to have a learning environment if we're not going to be up for that ourselves," Noble said.

"The intention was correct, I believe that there is still a place for being direct and firm with your playing group, but just the delivery was probably not the right time.

"We all get emotional at that point in time.

"I thought I had a really good day in the box, we were really methodical in the way we coached and then it just got the better of me at he end of the day, and I've got to be better than that."

Noble said it was his decision to apologise to the players days after the old-fashioned bake and said he is always prepared to tweak his approach where required.

But he said reports some of the Kangaroos' younger players were upset about the harsh address are not true, as far as he is aware.

Noble also denied reports there has been a major change in his game plan, with North's only win of the year to date coming against a depleted West Coast in round two.

"We've narrowed our focus on some key elements of our game plan - contested ball, our defence - but I want to be really clear, we haven't changed our game plan," Noble said.

"I haven't had players coming to me saying we have to change our game plan. That is incorrect."

Leading goalkicker Nick Larkey returns from suspension against Port Adelaide on Saturday but key defender Ben McKay will miss at least one week - possibly up to three - with a knee injury.

Noble pointed to North's new membership record as a positive sign the club is headed in the right direction in their rebuild and believes an on-field turnaround is not far away.

"When you play good teams, they don't give you many outs," he said.

"(Limiting) our turnovers, so our ability to control the ball for longer periods, would help that.

"We want to play with some more speed and we want to try and change the angles from time to time.

"We're seeing signs, we'd like to see more, but we've just got to keep nailing the process."