Varcoe won two premierships with Geelong in his time at the club from 2007 to 2014. He was invaluable in the Cats 2011 premierships season and was brilliant against the Pies in the Grand Final that year. However, after missing most of 2012 with a foot injury, he failed to regain his best form in 2013 and 2014.
This allowed Varcoe to become collateral damage in Geelong’s pursuit of key forward Mitch Clark. In order for the Cats to get their man, they needed to part ways with someone, and that someone was Varcoe. In exchange for Collingwood receiving Varcoe, Melbourne received want away defender Heritier Lumumba from the Pies and Melbourne allowed Clark to complete his move to Geelong.
Looking at the deal on paper, most experts expected Melbourne and Geelong, but most notably Geelong, to benefit most out of the deal. The Dees would gain some valuable experience in defence to help their younger players’ development. If the Cats could ensure Clark could stay fit, Geelong would gain a talented key forward to compliment Tom Hawkins.
The idea of Clark and Hawkins in the same forward line had many experts and in particular Cats’ fans salivating. However, Clark has, as many expected, struggled with injury, missing four games this season. Even when he has played Hawkins and Clark have struggled to work well together inside 50.
Lumumba has done what Melbourne expected down back, but he has not been quite as good as during the Grand Final years of 2010 and 2011 at Collingwood.
However, Travis Varcoe, who was perhaps seen as least important member of the three way trade, has excelled for the Pies. The 27-year-old is averaging career best numbers this season.
The new Collingwood recruit is playing like he has a point to prove after being moved on by Geelong.
Varcoe has average 13.9 disposals per game over his career, with a career best season of 16 coming in 2010 and 2011. In the first 13 games this season, Varcoe has averaged a career high 18 disposals per game, 4.2 marks and nine kicks per game.
Spreading his time between half back and midfield, he has created brilliant run from defensive 50 and through the midfield, and added valuable experience to the young Pies’ list.
Varcoe looks a completely different player, and he is playing with a confidence he seemed to have lost at the Cats. Geelong would not have blinked an eye at losing Varcoe given what they were getting in return, however, he has perhaps exceeded expectations this year.
Historically, Geelong have been very good at the trade table. They gave up Brent Moloney to Melbourne as part of the Brad Ottens deal, and we all know how well that turned out for the Cats. Ottens went on to become a three-time premiership player and become one of the best ruckman in the game during his career with Geelong.
So Geelong fans should not worry too much despite seeing Varcoe tear it up for the Pies at the moment. They should rest easy as their recruiting department have proven time and time again that they will pull out several gems from the draft in the coming years.
Collingwood on the other hand, should lick their lips at what Varcoe can produce in the coming years.