In the lead up to the 2017 season, we will be assessing each club’s list and naming our best 22 for round one. Working our way up the ladder; following the analysis of GWS, the next cab off the rank is Geelong.
Zero Hanger 2017 ladder prediction: 3rd
2016 was a season that showed a lot of promise but ended in crushing disappointment for the Cats. They were blown away in an incredible first quarter blitz by the Swans in their preliminary final. Their big weapons fired in that match, Dangerfield and Selwood had 39 touches each, but they were outgunned by the Swans spread across the board. It demands a re-think from the Cats hierarchy, how can they get the best out of their B & C grade players without hurting the performance of their stars? Which is better for the team?
The Cats have recruited well to try and cope with the losses of Jimmy Bartel and Corey Enright down back. Zach Tuohy comes in to aid their run from defense, while they already added Lachie Henderon a year prior. Jackson Thurlow returning from a knee reconstruction is a great story, he looked like he was just hitting his straps before he went down last year. Jake Kolodjashnij is developing nicely and mature-aged Tom Stewart is being touted to play round one, although he doesn’t quite make my side. They have plenty of options down there and that allows Harry Taylor to push forward.
The midfield is an obvious strength for Geelong, but their strength can be both a blessing and a curse. Brownlow Medalist Patrick Dangerfield is the best player in the game and Joel Selwood isn’t far behind him. The obvious knock is Geelong is too reliant on the big two. Statistically, Mitch Duncan, Cam Guthrie and the departed Josh Caddy all hit their disposal averages from previous years, but their impact on games seemed to be diminished. One weakness is they seem to have a lot of front-running players running through the midfield, with few focusing on the defensive aspects of the game. Chris Scott should be able to address that in the off-season and Scott Selwood will help in that department.
Providing a foil for Tom Hawkins has been the main difficulty for the Geelong hierarchy. Mitch Clark, Shane Kersten, Nathan Vardy and Josh Walker have all be tried in that role and have failed. It’s a difficult position as Hawkins commands so much of the footy in the Geelong forwardline. The talk is Harry Taylor will be the next player to be trialled there. He has five and six goal hauls in his career and has kicked 45 goals, 28 behinds. Time will tell if Taylor can be successful up forward, but the Cats need him, or anyone to successfully partner Hawkins if they are going to win a flag.
The abolition of the third man up rule will hurt no side more than Geelong. The Cats were the greatest exponents of the third man up with Mark Blicavs accumulating 154 hitouts utilising the strategy. With the tactic now outlawed, Zac Smith is going to have to step up for the Cats this season. He is capable, but he has operated with the safety net that if he is getting beaten they can call upon Blicavs to help out. Not having that could hurt the Cats.
Projected Geelong 2017 round one best 22:
FB: Jackson Thurlow, Tom Longergan, Zach Tuohy
C: Mitch Duncan, Joel Selwood, Mark Blicavs
FOL: Zac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield, Scott Selwood