Former Geelong premiership star Cameron Mooney has backed the Cats’ decision to persist with former defender Harry Taylor as a forward in 2017.
Taylor, a mainstay of the Cats’ backline for almost a decade, becoming one of the league’s best defenders, has been deployed almost exclusively as a forward in the opening four games of the season, to help key forward Tom Hawkins in the front third.
While Taylor has so far failed to kick a goal in the first four rounds and has at times looked out of place in the forward half of the ground, Mooney says he saw enough during Geelong’s 86-point Easter Monday win over Hawthorn to suggest his former teammate can cut it as a forward.
Many in the industry have suggested Chris Scott needs to abandoned his experiment and throw Taylor back in defence.
But Mooney believes, while Taylor may not be scoring goals at the moment, his impact on Geelong’s forward has been immense.
“What I saw on Monday was the best example of why Taylor should stay in his role as a forward with the Cats,” Mooney wrote in his column in the Geelong Advertiser.
“He is still growing into the role but he had five marks and three shots on goal, so if he puts a couple of those through he has had a 20-possession game and kicked two goals — that’s not bad going.
“The fact he is getting his hands on the ball as a forward shows he is understanding what he has to do a lot better and as the weeks go by and the more confidence he is getting, the more he is going to put himself into threatening positions.”
Full forward Tom Hawkins is the equal leader of the Coleman Medal after four rounds and Mooney says Taylor’s presence in the forward line is a big reason for this.
“By all means, use him as a swingman — and Chris Scott has been more than willing to do that as required — but Harry’s presence in the Geelong forward line is having a profound impact on one of the team’s most dangerous weapons,” Mooney said.
“Since he has made the switch inside 50, Tom Hawkins has been able to take his game to another level. Last year, Hawk averaged about five one-on-ones per game, whereas this year he is averaging eight.
“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.
“Harry is one of the best marks in the game and you are going to have to be extremely brave to come off him. This is going to enhance Hawkins’ ability to get more space and create one-on-ones, and there isn’t a person in the competition that can go with him on a consistent basis.
“It is really no surprise that Tom is leading the Coleman Medal tally after four games.”
Hawkins has kicked 16 goals so far this season, averaging four per game. At the same point last season, he had kicked just nine goals.
Geelong is currently undefeated and sit on top of the ladder with a percentage of 148.
The Cats have scored 487 points, the second most for the season behind Adelaide and have conceded 329 points, also the second least, behind Richmond.