Debate has been raging ever since the season kicked off whether or not Harry Taylor should remain up forward as Geelong’s second tall inside 50 alongside Tom Hawkins.
While Geelong is currently 4-0 and sit on top of the ladder, there appears no immediate reason to change a winning formula.
But on face value, it appears he should return to the back line.
He is yet to kick a goal this season in four games and has kicked just four behinds and at times has looked lost and unsure of himself in the forward line.
However, he enjoyed his best game for the season against Hawthorn on Easter Monday, finishing with 20 disposals, five marks and three behinds.
Geelong, in my opinion, should stick with Harry Taylor up forward for the foreseeable future. He has some of the best hands in the competition and would worry any defender. The Cats have also put a lot of time into Harry Taylor the key forward, with the 30-year-old training as a forward for the majority of the pre-season.
Taylor is providing great foil for Tom Hawkins and taking pressure off the big forward, which has helped him to kicked 16 goals over the first four rounds.
However, should the Cats choose to throw him back in defense if he cannot hit the scoreboard, there is an answer for a replacement already at the club.
That is Rhys Stanley.
Stanley was perhaps even a better option to throw forward rather than Taylor at the beginning of the season. But given the time spent on Taylor, he should continue for now.
But Stanley is a brilliant back-up should the move fail.
Former Geelong forward Cameron Mooney said this week; “since he (Taylor) has made the switch inside 50, Tom Hawkins has been able to take his game to another level”.
“I think you can put that down to the fact that Geelong now has another key forward that the opposition at the very least has to pay attention to,” he added.
Firstly, this role can surely also be adopted by another player, such as Stanley.
Stanley, since joining Geelong at the end of 2014, has been used predominantly as a ruckman. However, over the first four rounds one of either Stanley or Zac Smith have been preferred in the side, rather than both.
Both are talented players are arguably deserve a spot in the side.
Stanley also has plenty of experience in the forward 50, having spent a lot of time there during his time at St Kilda.
He also has a brilliant set of hands and is a dead-eye in front of goal.
The 26-year-old has not quite lived up to the hype from early in his career and he has struggled with consistent form throughout his career and has rrarely been able to kick several goals in a game.
But, if Taylor has been deemed a success by Mooney without kicking a goal thus far, then bags of goals are not the criteria, but rather, a partner in crime and someone to take the pressure of spearhead Tom Hawkins.
Stanley was left out Geelong’s side that defeated Hawthorn by 86 points on Easter Monday, with Smith the preferred ruckman.
While Taylor’s presence in the forward line and lack of in the defense has not created problems thus far for the Cats, it may do later in the season when faced with tougher opposition.
Geelong has so far beaten a Freamntle side on its knees in round one, gotten out of jail against both North Melbourne and Melbourne and trounced a hapless Hawthorn side devoid of confidence and the hunger that we have become accustomed to over the past decade.
Regardless of his own form, Taylor may need to be thrown back against the likes of Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney. Stanley should be the man to throw forward if that is the case, or perhaps he should be trialed there now, rather than picking only one of him or Zac Smith on any given week.