Season Review: Geelong

The Cats in 2014

 

by David Fordyce

 

What went well?

 

  1. Given all the premiership players that have left lately, a top hour finish at the end of the home and away season was a great and worthy result.
  2. Lonergan and Hawkins had very good years, as did Selwood and Blicavs.
  3. Rivers came though as a solid defender after a disappointing 2013.
  4. Varcoe had a good last month, building on his first injury-free season in some time.
  5. The young midfielders had a good year.
  1. Duncan played every game, as last year, and he kicked on late in the North final.
  2. Guthrie played every game.
  3. Murdoch went from 11 games last year to 23 this year.
  4. Horlin-Smith went from eight games last year to 21 this year.
  5. The last three all started the year in great form, but then fell away after Rds 15–18, due to their youth. Can Murdoch play on a match-winner like Isaac Smith, or Horlin-Smith on Dal Santo? GHS had 10 possessions v North, and Murdoch had 9 and 7 possessions in the two finals.
  6. Add Josh Caddy, and the selectors have an exciting midfield. Caddy came back from a seven-week foot injury and was in the best players four times Rd 18–23. He was poor in the Hawthorn final but almost won the game in the North final.
  1. Lincoln McCarthy looks like the goal-kicking crumber we have needed. His snap late in the North final was Chapman-like. He played the first two games this year, was then injured for 11 weeks, but came back well.
  2. Many supporters wanted to delist Josh Walker and Mitch Brown, but big blokes take longer. Walker should have played more last year. He was injury-free this year, and would be highly encouraged by his two finals.
  3. Mitch Brown played the first three games but got an injury. He then had a pin removed from his shoulder in May and then came back strongly. He can also play as a defender. He should have stayed as our third tall defender last August after playing well in Rd 18.
  4. Kersten had an extended run. The selectors tried to play him quickly, after he had missed 11 weeks, but he never got in form. He is more a third tall at 191 cm than a second tall.
  5. Bartel played as our centre half-forward and he had some great marks and goals.
  6. We were up against it when Vardy went down. Given the turnover in senior players and the injuries, the Cats are doing well. In 2009 and 2010, the top 4 were Collingwood, St Kilda, Geelong and Footscray. In 2013 and 2014 the top 4 were Sydney, Hawthorn, Geelong and Fremantle. The Cats should be better in 2015. The young midfielders will have more games in them, we should have a couple of tall forward options and a ruckman.

What didn’t go well?

  1. The ruck. Hawthorn has five players over 199cm, we have three, and they were all injured in September. So our ruck fell to Blicavs 198cm and Walker 196. Hawthorn had four ruckmen but they still got McEvoy. They have Ceglar 204, Lowden 204, Hale 201, McEvoy 200 and Grimley 199. Geelong used to have five ruckmen, but when the list dropped from 48 to 46, our rucks dropped from 5 to 4. We have not had a big ruckman in September ever since. Geelong should not be saying they are going to run Goldstein around, or they are going to do this or going to do that. The old Geelong used to leave their talking for the game.
  2. Centre half-forward. It might be fixed now, though Walker should have been given more games last year when Hawkins was injured. He got three games and one of those was the Freo final!
  3. The back pocket. Last year we had Bartel stuck there and this year it was James Kelly. He is the best tackler in the side, and we have a young midfield and an ageing backline. The sooner Bews can hold down his spot in the back pocket the better. He beat Lindsay Thomas and Ballantyne this year but had to be ‘managed’ through the second half of this season.
  4. We don’t tag enough, in big games. Kelly should be on Sam Mitchell. Play Horlin-Smith as a tagger, as well as Guthrie. Put Varcoe on Brad Hill, put Murdoch on Isaac Smith. We need to be tighter. We need more two-way running from our young players, especially Murdoch.
  5. The second halves. Maybe it was structural or fitness, but we hardly won a second half for the year. Plus our skill level was deplorable, with turnovers from senior players.
  6. Until these issues are fixed, there is too much pressure on our young players, and also our older players. Johnson, Stokes and Kelly all fell away with injuries in July and August, around the same time as our young midfielders dropped off.
  7. Caddy saved the day on the inside, but we are falling behind in our outside run. The long injuries to Cowan, Burbury, Menzel, McCarthy and Bates are taking their toll. Motlop tries to do too much, and just needs to play his role do the simple things well, like Rivers and Blicavs.

What happens next?

  1. We are finally going to develop a young ruckman in 204cm international rookie Padraig Lucey. Meanwhile the Box Hill Hawks played in their third consecutive grand final and Todd Goldstein’s early dominance was the main factor in the North final.
  2. Our successful era was driven by strong assistant coaches, Hinkley, McCartney, Sanderson, and led by on-field by leaders Harley, Ling, Scarlett and Chapman. Can the club again discover that multi-pronged leadership, where problems are fixed quickly?
  3. Two-way running. It is the way of the future, so we need a dozen players who can do it.
  4. Less injuries. It wasn’t as bad as 2013, but especially Kersten and Smedts need to be injury-free so the coaches can train them. Kersten needs to mark overhead.
  5. Here are the young players injured during 2014:
  • early in the season – McCarthy 11 weeks, Christensen 10 weeks, Kersten and Smedts 8 weeks, Motlop 4 weeks
  • mid-season – Schroder and Brown 3 weeks, Sheringham 2 weeks
  • end of season – Burbury 17 weeks, T Hunt 10 weeks, Simpson 5 weeks
  • whole season – Vardy, Menzel, Cowan and Bates.

Port Adelaide had only three players unavailable for the preliminary final. We would have had a dozen. If 2013 was a 2/10 year for injuries, then 2014 was only half way to average. An ‘average’ year with injuries would be welcome. It would allow the coaches to train players who have talent but who are not producing their best consistently enough to hold their spots.

Comments

  1. Fair summary David.

    Harry Taylor was very disappointing in 2014. Poor year. Horlin-Smith’s lack of pace is a worry. And we are in danger of chasing second rate, old ruckmen rather than developing a few. If we must get one from another team, make it a younger one.

    I desperately hope we don’t get Frawley from Melbourne. I’d rather persist with Mitch Brown. I also see Rivers as one of our problems in defence. Never been a fan, and probably never will be. His decision making and kicking are ordinary, especially compared to the elite defenders.

    Mackie is close to the end. Kelly either plays in the middle or doesn’t play. Next year we need to see a lot of Lang, Kolodjashnij, McCarthy, Menzel, Bews, Hartman, Jansen, Hamling and Kersten. Shame Cowan can’t come up.

    For the chop – Taylor Hunt, Stringer, Sheringham. Maybe Shroeder if we get a trade.

  2. Harry got his seven Brownlow votes in Rds 17, 18, 20 & 21. You might remember his BOG v Freo in Rd 20. So he was promising to deliver in September.

    As was Enright. He was named in the best on the AFL website in Rds 20, 21, 22 & 23.

    Mackie was another one. Had good games in Rd 20 & 22. Seemed to be in good touch. The defence was being talked about as our premiership ace.

    The ruck is our biggest issue, ever since losing Mumford in 2009. The Hawks rate ruckmen far more than we do. We used to, but have joined the mob, trying to get a cheap one. That is why we got smashed at the start of the North final.

    Rivers had a very good year. Half way through he was our best defender. Agree on Mitch Brown, he is 196 and versatile, and is improving.

    GHS will get stronger, but yes he needs to. Yes re Kelly, but Bews needs to be able to play every week first.

    Sheringham and Schroder were coming on but had mid-season injuries that derailed them. Smedts needs to be injury-free.

    Oh for an ‘average’ injury season. The Swans have their best 22 all available on Saturday.

  3. Hi Dip,

    Harry got his seven Brownlow votes in Rds 17, 18, 20 & 21. You might remember his BOG v Freo in Rd 20. So he was promising to deliver in September.

    As was Enright. He was named in the best on the AFL website in Rds 20, 21, 22 & 23.

    Mackie was another one. Had good games in Rd 20 & 22. Seemed to be in good touch. The defence was being talked about as our ‘premiership ace’.

    The ruck is our biggest issue, ever since losing Mumford in 2009. The Hawks rate ruckmen far more than we do. We used to, but have joined the mob, trying to get a cheap one. That is why we got smashed at the start of the North final.

    Rivers had a very good year. Half way through he was our best defender. Agree on Mitch Brown, he is 196 and versatile, and is improving.

    GHS will get stronger, but yes he needs to. Yes re Kelly, but Bews needs to be able to play every week first.

    Sheringham and Schroder were coming on but had mid-season injuries that derailed them. Smedts needs to be injury-free.

    Oh for an ‘average’ injury season. The Swans have their best 22 all available on Saturday.

  4. Great comments guys. Agree on most fronts, especially with the ruck situation. However we have been excellent in the past in recruiting injury prone players and turning them into stars. Not sure McIntosh and Simpson are of this ilk. I reckon the younger lads will be much better in 2015 should there be no injuries. The fitness dept has seen some turnover already and I agree. Fitness is key and if our guys aren’t being managed correctly then change is inevitable. Many don’t see Chris Scott with a Plan B or C similar to Bomber Thompson in 2010. 2015 is supposed to be a premiership year according to Chris Scott. Or so was his presentation to Brian Cook and the Board when he got the job.

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