We are Geelong – 2016 Cat’s Player Profiles

On the eve of the 2011 Grand Final a friend from WA asked for some info about the Geelong players as she and her friends had decided to barrack for the Cats. Here is the 2016 update.  I’ve been barracking for Geelong for the last 50 years. The opinions are mine. Feel free to agree or disagree.

Marcus Holt

Forwards

#6 Lincoln McCarthy has grabbed his chance this season and has pretty much locked in his place as a small forward. Got a great leap and takes a few speccies and is starting to kick goals regularly. Goes in hard for the ball and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. I think he will do well in the finals. Teams are judged on their bottom six players and with guys like McCarthy Geelong is pretty solid at the bottom end.

#10 Daniel Menzel, one of the best stories of the season is the return of Dan Menzel after four knee reconstructions from ACL injuries! Made a stunning return against Collingwood late last season and a regular part of the team this year although most fans held their breath every time he went for the ball for the first half of the season. Missed the 07,09 &11 premierships as he battled back to fitness time and time again. Is now repaying the club’s faith in him as the second key forward. With the departure of Steve Johnson, Menzel is the heir apparent, capable of the speccie or freakish snap goal. Winning the flag would complete his fairytale.

#3 Jimmy Bartel is a fair dinkum legend. One of only two players in history to have won a Brownlow medal, a Norm Smith medal and played 300 games. The other is Simon Black. Both also have three premiership medals but hopefully Jimmy can add a 4th this year. A great mark, courageous and fearless with a cheeky smile. Used to be super reliable shot for goal but not so much now. Two years ago I was sure he was done but he’s reinvented himself playing across half forward or as a Mr Fixit. Early this year he revealed a history of domestic violence in his family and has grown his beard and hair to highlight a campaign against DV. Universally loved and guaranteed to go into the media when he retires.

#26 Tom Hawkins. One of my favourite players. Fair to say he was a late developer as a key forward and copped plenty of criticism from impatient fans in the early years. Footy experts reckon it takes longer for big blokes to reach their peak and Hawk is no exception. His coming of age was the 2011 finals series and in particular the Grand Final where he dominated Ben Reid. His last quarter turned the game Geelong’s way with his powerful pack marks setting us on the path to victory. Tommy’s goal kicking has been his Achilles heal in the past and he occasionally still gets the yips but is generally a lot more reliable shot now. He’s a huge presence at full forward who always gets the number one defender. Has been restricted in agility at times so often kicks goals off the ground when he can’t pick up the ball and kicks a lot of his goals in the final quarter of games. Would love to see him on fast leads more than just wrestling with his opponent in the square but he’s so strong he still wins most of those contests. Had a tough year in 2015 when his Mum died. Has had a 50+ goal season, including 6 last week and looms as a potential match winner for the Cats in September. Kicked a goal after the siren to beat Hawthorn in 2012. Encore!

#32 Steven Motlop. Probably the most exhilarating/frustrating player on the list. On his day Motlop is BRILLIANT! Fast, dynamic, clever and elusive, a goal sneak and livewire around the forward line and as an outside line-breaker. Mots on the run, bouncing, kicking long to Hawk or shooting for goal is about as good as it gets and couple of seasons back drew favourable comparisons with Cyril. Not so much now. While Cyril has elevated himself to genuine superstar status (a mantle I do not dispense lightly!) Motlop has become inconsistent and unpredictable. Too may times he appears disinterested, to not really be trying. I think Titus O’Reilly captured the essence of him on his bad days when he quipped “Motlop almost thought about chasing his opponent”. Some blokes are consistent and you pretty much know what you’re gonna get, week in and week out. Not with Stevie! He had a horror run mid-season where I was adamant he should be dropped. Darlow agreed but stated it bluntly, “He won’t be dropped”. Thankfully Mots has re-found some form and application in the last month and actually led the Cats tackle count in one game! He kicked 5 goals against Brisbane in Rd 22. Has the potential to be game-breaker in the finals if he gets off the leash and stays in the game for 4 quarters.

Backs

#4 Andrew Mackie, a staple on the backline for 250+ games, Mackie is a reliable defender who often sets up the Cats rebounding attacks off the half back with his long kicks. Loves to drift forward and pinch a goal. I have an on-going argument with my mates about Mack because although he is a beautiful kick, he is also the turnover king at Geelong. Too many times he gives the ball straight to the opposition and in modern football, turnovers result in goals.

#7 Harry Taylor, a mature aged recruit drafted from East Fremantle in 2008 has become one of the best intercept marks in the AFL and an absolute rock in the heart of the Geelong defence. Takes the opposition’s key forward but reads the play so well that he often leaves his man to spoil or mark or support his team mates in repelling opposition attacks. Geelong had the second best defensive record this year due to the stability and dependability of the back six. Harry, Tom Lonergan, Boris and Mackie are the old hands with young guys like Henderson, Ruggles, Bews, and Kolodjashnij learning fast. Harry is an interesting character, fond of a cigar and a glass of cognac and who has memorised the capital cities of every country in the world. Used to be a regular swing man and occasional goal kicker. Was used in that role in the comeback against Richmond in round 21.

 

#8 Jake Kolodjashnij, twin brother Kade plays for the Suns. Jake was held back a bit before debuting last season which made him a target for other clubs (St Kilda were very keen) but he has become a regular part of the backline who can play on both talls and smalls. Yet to kick a goal.

#13 Tom “Domsy” Lonergan. Ten years ago this week Tom backed into a pack for a mark against Melbourne and copped a whack that saw him lose a kidney and almost die! Just coming back to play footy after that is amazing but Tom has gone on to win two flags with the Cats and become one of the twin towers in the backline along with Harry Taylor. Very quiet bloke, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard him speak, obviously prefers to stay out of the spotlight but his footy does enough talking. Regularly plays on Lance Franklin and with some success. Usually cited by other players as the worst dressed player at the club and the player most likely to buy stuff at an op shop (a man after my own heart).

#24 Jed Bews, son of a former gun and captain at Geelong, Andrew Bews. Jed has been in and out of the team this year but I really like him, he’s tough and determined and fills a critical role in the backline cause he can play on the smalls like Cyril and Eddie but is big enough to cover mid-sized forwards as well. Fits into the back six set-up really well where stability, communication and teamwork are critical. Currently disposing at 80% efficiency so doesn’t turn the ball over much.

#25 Lachie Henderson was traded from Carlton last post-season, having been part of the deal that took Fevola to Brisbane. I confess I wouldn’t have known him or whether he was any good at the Blues but am rapidly coming to like him at Geelong. Has slotted into the backline beautifully and can take a tall forward, has good hands and takes intercept marks across half back. Likes to kick a goal and was swung forward along with Harry when we were in trouble against the Tigers. Seemed all set for a key role in the finals until the club revealed he’d had keyhole surgery on his knee after the Richmond game. Not sure when he’ll be back. Having a near fully-fit squad at this time of year is a rare luxury so while Hendo will be welcomed back, we have good coverage in his absence.

#36 Tom Ruggles. Steven Wells is a genius football recruiter who has delivered good and great players to Geelong from unexpected places for years. Yes the Cats have benefited more than most from father-son selections (and consider that there are some 25 SONS who’ve been born to players from the golden era of Geelong so the future holds great promise) but it is the left-field selections of Steven Wells that I really enjoy (think Harry Taylor, Mark Blicavs, James Podsiadly, Sam Menegola). And Tom Ruggles is another one, plucked from local footy side Leopold last year, the 24 year-old has slotted into the Geelong backline superbly. A likely successor to Boris when he eventually retires, Ruggles reads the play well, takes a strong mark, gets to the contest to effect a spoil, can negate a small or mid-sized forward and uses the ball well, currently running at 76% efficiency. When Jackson Thurlow did his ACL in pre-season it was a blow to the backline but Wells and Co. pulled a Ruggles out of the box!

#44 Corey Enright. Hails from Kimba in country SA and came to Geelong in 1999 in the same draft as my nephew Daniel Foster who was responsible for the nickname “Boris”. Now the club games record holder Boris has been a superstar defender through the golden era of Geelong FC. Unflappable, reliable, calm and cool in a crisis, Enright just gets the job done week after week. Seemingly set to retire at the end of 2015 he not only played on but has starred and looks totally capable of going around again in 2017! I suspect though that should the Cats win the flag this year he will bow out on the highest of highs. As I’ve said earlier, the cohesion of the backline is integral to Geelong’s success and Boris is a critical part of the defensive machine. All-Australian team for the sixth time, all since the age of 27!

Midfielders/Rucks

#14 Joel Selwood. Where do you start when descibing our captain? Courage personified. Fearless to the point of foolhardy. Looking for a novelty bet in the GF if Geelong make it? Tip which quarter Joel will get his head bandaged! Was the clear and obvious choice as captain after Lingy retired and his leadership on and off the field is lauded by the whole football world. Twice named as All Australian captain. Rising Star winner in his first season to go along with the 2007 premiership. Has carried the team for the last couple of years so is particularly enjoying having Danger alongside him in the midfield to share the load and free him up a little. Joel is HARD, one of the toughest players in the league and an inspiration to his team mates. Has been close to winning a Brownlow a few times but three premiership medals (so far) are more than enough compensation. Does he have a weakness? His kicking at goal lets him down some times but he’s not alone there, Geelong’s kicking for goal this year has been atrocious. The last few weeks have been better so let’s hope the trend continues!

 

#1 Rhys Stanley, huge addition to the team since coming from the Saints two years ago. Apparently Steven Wells was keen to pick him in the 2008 draft. Very fast for a big man (200cm) he won the 2009 Grand Final sprint. In tandem with Zac Smith Geelong finally have a decent ruck combination for the first time since Brad Ottens retired. Stanley gets forward and presents as another tall target in the forward line but his kicking at goal is a bit unreliable.

#9 Zac Smith. Everyone knows how good Patty Dangerfield has been  but no-one should underestimate how critical Zac Smith (and Rhys Stanley) have been for Geelong since coming from Gold Coast at the end of last year. Having competitive ruckmen enables us to break even at ball-ups and stoppages which is all “Dangerwood” need. For a 206cm ruckman Zac wins a surprising number of clearances and his second efforts make him extra valuable. Kicked three goals in the first quarter of his debut game for the Cats but has not been as prolific since.

#16 Scott Selwood, the youngest of the four Selwood brothers, who all hail from Bendigo and grew up barracking for the Cats. Scott won the best and fairest at West Coast before joining Geelong at the end of last season. When offered the number 15 jumper he refused, saying, “No way do I want the locker next to Joel” haha. Has been injured most of the season with an ankle but debuted for Geelong a month ago and has looked serviceable without starring. He’s a real hard nut in-and-under player but my mate Darlow reckons the main reason he’s playing is to tag Sam Mitchell in the finals. Hopefully he’s fit enough for that role after a tight hamstring saw him pull out of the Melbourne game. Mitchell has hurt us many times but we saw what happened when WC played a hard tag on him (Hutchings) two weeks ago.Hawthorn aren’t quite the team they were in winning three flags in a row but the fact is, they are still the team to beat, they just know how to get the job done. They’ve won six games this season by under 10 points. Hodge is an incredible leader and Cyril is simply brilliant. We’ve got a real challenge in the first final!

#18 Josh Cowan has been at Geelong for seven years but due to a terrible run of injuries has only played 12 games. He and Menzel seem to have finally overcome their bad luck and Josh has put in a strong claim for a regular place in the side this season. He doesn’t have a clear position in my mind and often starts on the bench then swings into the action, he’s another hard nut who goes in where the battle is fiercest and often emerges with the ball. In some senses the jury is still out on him and some have even suggested he’ll be traded but I think the club have believed and invested in him for good reason. I think he’ll be in the 22 for the finals.

#22 Mitch Duncan came from East Perth and played for Carine as a kid, a team I coached in a previous life. Kicked a good goal in the last quarter of the 2011 Grand Final and has been a regular member of the Cat’s midfield ever since. A couple of years ago he was looking like becoming a real A-Grader but his form has been a bit inconsistent the last year or so. The arrival of Danger has inadvertently pushed a few of Geelong’s midfielders aside a little (think Guthrie, Blicavs along with Duncan). Mitch has a little of Scott Pendlebury about him, though not in the same class as the Magpie’s skipper, usually appears to have time, is a good kick and decision maker who earlier this season was rated the most efficient ball-user in the league (based on accuracy and effectiveness). Is not a tank like some of the other mids (think Selwood, Dangerfield, Caddy, Menegola) but doesn’t lack courage or toughness.

#23 Josh Caddy was one of the first to leave the Suns. Wanted to go to Essendon in 2011 but ended up at the Cattery in 2012. Took a little while to establish himself but has become a key part of the engine room now. Is a BULL! Strong tough and relentless, very hard to stop and hard to escape if he tackles you, reminiscent of a previous JC at Geelong, not flashy but super dependable. Nearing 100 AFL games and has kicked over 70 goals so he’s a handy player when he goes forward as well. Darlow, who I must admit has an opinion about EVERYONE, reckons Caddy is crucial to our success. Mind you he, Darlow, also reckons Blicavs will win a Brownlow. I’m yet to be convinced!

#27 Sam Menegola. Wow! One of the best 5-game careers in club history! Menegola was recruited from Subiaco last year after failing to play a game in stints at both Hawthorn and Fremantle. Debuted against Adelaide in Rd. 18 and has played so well in his five games that he is an automatic selection in the side! Another absolute TANK, complete with barrel chest, Sam is hard at the ball and hard at the man. There are plenty of rough edges to work on but with some of the class mids around him he will learn quickly. Has already shown a nose for goals but needs to remember it’s team first at the Cats. He kicked two in two minutes against Melbourne then blazed away at another and missed when Hawk was in the clear 20m out. A couple of the veterans were quick to give him the message so hopefully he’s a fast learner. Sam’s disposal can be a little wayward, sometimes giving the ball to guys in worse positions than himself rather than looking for the best option. Averaging 25 disposals a game and last week was the number one rated player in the league for the round!

#29 Cameron Guthrie has played 106 games since debuting in 2011 having taken over the number 29 jumper from Gazza Jr. Cam has become a regular selection in the firsts as a strong running, line-breaking midfielder and occasional shut-down player when someone on the opposition is getting off the leash. An unusual looking player (check out his socks) who’s also a bit left-field off the ground. He works in an ice cream parlour one afternoon a week just to keep himself grounded. Form this year has been slightly down, probably as a result of the focus on Dangerwood, but has been better the last couple of weeks. Guthrie is one of those players who could make the difference in a finals series, slightly under the radar but capable of doing great things, ala Isaac Smith or Andrew Gaff.

#35 Patrick Dangerfield. Not much to see here, move on! Hahahahaha! How lucky are Geelong that the homesick superstar just happens to hail from a tiny little place on the Great Ocean Road called Moggs Creek and wanted to come home after giving eight years of brilliant service to the Adelaide Crows. That left just one club as his intended destination, the Cats. I refused to believe it all last season in case it didn’t happen (think Buddy to the Giants!) but one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen at the footy was Danger receiving a standing ovation from the Geelong crowd when he kicked a goal for the Crows at Kardinia Park in the final minute of the last game of last season! Talk about make a bloke feel welcome! And despite all the hype, Danger has not only lived up to it, he’s surpassed it and is the Brownlow medallist-elect (Let’s hope the bookies/commentators/crystal ball gazers have got it right!). When he gets the ball from a centre clearance and bursts out of the pack he is the nearest thing I’ve ever seen to unstoppable. Add a 55-60m kick inside 50 to a drooling Tommy Hawkins and he is a truly awesome weapon. A humble, likeable, friendly footballing superstar. Oh and he won the Grand Final sprint 3 years in a row! Bring on the finals…

#46 Mark Blicavs. One of the best stories in footy! Blitz was a gifted steeple chaser aiming to make the Australian team for the London Olympics when Cam Guthrie’s Dad, who had coached him in a season of junior footy years before, suggested Geelong take a look at him, despite the fact that he was no longer playing footy. They liked what they saw but his mind was still on London so in an extraordinary show of faith and support the club backed him in to go for his Olympic dream on the understanding that if it didn’t work out they would sign him up. He missed the Olympics, came to Geelong in 2013 and despite having played virtually no junior or club footy three years later won the Best and Fairest! Blicavs is a true swingman. He can pinch hit in the ruck, play down back, kick goals up forward and has the tank to run all day as a winger or in the midfield. That sort of versatility is priceless heading into finals. He didn’t win Olympic gold but I imagine winning a premiership medal would more than make up for it.

Interchange/Emergencies

#39 Shane Kersten. For years Geelong fans had  love-hate relationships with certain players who came and went but never established themselves in the team or in the affections of the fans (think Brett Spinks, Mitchell White, Peter Johnston, Stephen Reynoldson, Kent Kingsley, David Mensch, Charlie Gardiner, Henry Playfair, Ryan Gamble …) I suggest that the latest in this line is Shane Kersten. Recruited from South Fremantle in 2011 he has played 38 games for the Cats but is still on the fringe, victim of his own form which is solid rather than impressive. Seen as a second key forward to take some of the heat off Hawk, Kersten gets up the ground a bit more and has a decent tank. The problem is he doesn’t quite hold all the marks he goes for and doesn’t convert all the shots into goals that the crowd expect. I’m in the camp that says he’s a decent AFL player who is never going to be a star but fulfils a role for the team, chases, tackles, applies defensive pressure inside forward 50 and can occupy dangerous rebounding defenders like Shaun Gibson. I suspect he’ll be an emergency in the finals because he has a bit of versatility. I hope he wins the fans over cause while he may lack a bit of polish he doesn’t lack effort.

#5 Nakia Cockatoo is an indigenous player drafted in 2014. Has had a few injuries and hasn’t quite established himself as a first team player but is strong and fast and has shown glimpses of flair and skill that suggest he could become a very good player. The fact we have an almost fully fit squad for once means fringe players like Cocky may not get back in the side for the finals.

#11 Darcy Lang is a young hard nut type of player who plays as a small forward but would like to move into the midfield. (Is there a player anywhere who doesn’t aspire to playing in the midfield? Just asking…) Darcy has played pretty well this season but is a victim of fitness and form, ie. too many fit players trying to squeeze into the firsts and those with the best form get selected. (Except for Steve Motlop but I’ll come to that). Likely emergency v the Hawks.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Let me break it down..Motlop and Guthrie had to lift in the second half last night if the cats were going to win..and lift they did. There were other factors, but they were the main two..thanks very much..

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