Geelong are the definition of consistency. The Cats have been in 11 of the last 15 preliminary finals, highlighting their ability to remain toward the top end of the ladder season after season.
However, they boast the oldest side in the competition, with an average of 25.7 years and 96.6 games per player among their finalised list heading into 2022.
In recent times the Cats have struggled in big finals, winning only six of 19 post-season clashes under Chris Scott, which is an alarming trend as they're able to record strong regular season results, but can't seem to replicate those standards come September.
Scott's slow playing style and reliance on controlling the ball hasn't worked in recent times, especially when the pressure ascends in finals, so a tweak in playing style may be needed to perform better in critical matches.
Geelong are still in a strong position to contend next year, still hosting a strong list after yet another preliminary final appearance, so who could the Cats steal to make sure that their consistent run continues?
- If your team could steal one player: Adelaide Crows
- If your team could steal one player: Brisbane Lions
- If your team could steal one player: Carlton Blues
- If your team could steal one player: Collingwood Magpies
- If your team could steal one player: Essendon Bombers
- If your team could steal one player: Fremantle Dockers
Gaps in best 22
Geelong's biggest gap on their list lies in the ruck. With Rhys Stanley unable to produce consistently and Esava Ratugolea more suited as a forward, Geelong are in need of a quality ruckman to supplement their star-studded midfield.
The Cats signed Hawthorn veteran Jonathon Ceglar in the off-season, which offsets their ruck woes to a degree, but Ceglar will be 31 by the time Round 1 comes around next year, and much like Geelong's list, doesn't have much time to produce before hanging up the boots.
A ready-made youthful ruckman would be a big addition to an ageing squad at Kardinia Park.
The Cats are also in need of a key defender after the retirement of Lachie Henderson.
Geelong has always boasted a strong defence, especially at home, so a defender would not be a bad option if the Cats were able to steal one.
Whilst the Cats do have one of the most potent forward lines in the competition, with Tom Hawkins, Jeremy Cameron and Gary Rohan all calling Kardinia Park home, a talented small forward would fit nicely and make the forward 50 at GMHBA Stadium even more dangerous.
The signing of former Crows and Tigers small forward Tyson Stengle may prove to be the solution to their problem, but another small forward in the mix would do the club no harm.
Another midfielder would continue Geelong's run in having one of the best midfields in the competition.
Candidates to steal
Option 1: Sean Darcy
Darcy has developed into one of the premier ruckmen in the competition after a standout and career-best year at the Fremantle Dockers.
In 2021, Darcy averaged 16.6 disposals and 28.5 hit-outs per game and was unlucky not to make the All-Australian team.
Coming off a best and fairest campaign at the Dockers and at just 23 years of age, Darcy fits the bill perfectly for the Cats if they were able to steal him in this hypothetical scenario.
The talented tall would complement the Cats' engine room well, with the likes of Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Sam Menegola, Mitch Duncan and Cameron Guthrie gaining greater service in the centre.
Darcy played locally for the Geelong Falcons before getting drafted, which would be icing on the cake for the Cats to bring the 23-year-old back near his local town of Cobden.
Option 2: Darcy Parish
Another Geelong Falcons product, Parish also joins Darcy in having had a breakout year in 2021.
The 24-year-old averaged 30.5 disposals per game this year, landing his first All-Australian blazer, whilst also winning best-on-ground honours in the Anzac Day and Dreamtime games, proving he is a big-game player.
With Parish heading into his prime, the Bombers star would be perfect for Geelong's midfield as Dangerfield and Selwood could be the brunt in the contest whilst Parish provides the class and run on the outside.
The former Geelong Falcon would be a massive signing for a club needing youthful talent to prolong their premiership window.
Option 3: Jacob Weitering
Weitering is one of the best defenders in the competition, and at just 24 years of age, is heading into the prime of his career.
The Blues defender had a stellar year in 2021, averaging a career-high 16.4 disposals and 7.6 marks per game, whilst also holding some of the best key forwards to quiet games.
Option 4: Tom Papley
The feisty small forward from the Sydney Swans is one of the most damaging players in his position and would pair well with Tyson Stengle or Brad Close inside forward 50, and would also assist the big key forwards in Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron when they're being locked down.
Papley's goal sense and crumbing ability, along with his speed and pressure, would be a handy addition to a team that lacks speed at the best of times.
As aforementioned, Geelong needs a bonified ruck more than anything else. Jonathon Ceglar can fill the void for the short term, but Sean Darcy would take the team to another level and further prolong their premiership ambitions.
Darcy's hit-out ability would deliver silver service to Dangerfield, Selwood and Duncan in making sure that they gain territory and play the game in their front half.
The 23-year old knows how to find the footy and can act as an extra midfielder at the centre bounce, whilst he can also get back in defence to help out the Cats' rearguard.
Turning into one of the stars of the competition, the Cats are desperately in need of youthful talent, and Darcy would be the perfect solution to their problems.