2017 saw another top four finish for Geelong but also some worrying signs. Back to back losses to Collingwood and Gold Coast were unexpected and a Finals series capitulation, despite a strong showing against a battered and tired Sydney in the Semi Final, were typical of Geelong’s recent Finals efforts.
The big name recruits that Geelong had secured in the previous years again stood up to be among the club’s best. Patrick Dangerfield won his second Carji Greaves medal while Zach Tuohy, Lachie Henderson and Zac Smith all featured in the top 10.
There were eight debutantes in 2017, Tom Stewart, Brandan Parfitt and Zach Guthrie among the most promising. Sam Menegola and Jackson Thurlow also continued their development, both men spend time on the wing/midfield in the latter half of the season.
FB: Tom Stewart, Lachie Henderson*, Jed Bews
HB: Jake Kolodjashnij, Harry Taylor, Zach Tuohy
C: Brandon Parfitt, Mitch Duncan, Mark Blicavs
HF: Nakia Cockatoo , Tom Hawkins, Sam Menegola
FF: Daniel Menzel, Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield
R: Zac Smith, Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett
INT: Cameron Guthrie, Zach Guthrie, Scott Selwood*, Lincoln McCarthy
EMG: Jackson Thurlow, Jordan Murdoch, James Parsons, Wylie Buzza
Best 22 Analysis
It’s going to be a hard 22 to pick for Geelong coach Chris Scott this year. He has a plethora of midfielders to choose from who – arguably – all deserve their position in the starting side. Luckily for Scott, and the Cats, a number of them, including Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett and Sam Menegola can all make an impact in the forward half. Mark Blicavs on the other hand will spend more time on the wing and in the back half of the ground in a new role.
Lachie Henderson and Scott Selwood won’t play at the start of the season so expect recruit Tim Kelly to step into the Round 1 team along with one of the other listed emergencies.
Scott has shown throughout the last few years that he isn’t set in stone on his ‘big man’ combination Rhys Stanley and Wylie Buzza have been in and out of the starting 22 and could well be again.
Rd 1 v Melbourne @ MCG
The Easter Monday clash against Hawthorn – this year in Round 2 – usually draws a crowd in excess of 80,000 and this year Geelong could face back to back full houses at the MCG as they take on Melbourne in Round 1. The Demons are expected to make the top eight this year and will be keen to get their season off to a strong start against a good side. Meanwhile, Geelong will come into the match without defenders, Lachie Henderson (injured), Tom Lonergan (retired) and Andrew Mackie (retired). Can the Cats midfield create enough pressure to help out a backline that is significantly shorter and less experienced than in previous years?
Rd 8 – 11 v Collingwood, Essendon, Carlton and Gold Coast
It’s around this time of year that Geelong traditionally drops a game or two. This four week block, in which they play at the MCG twice, GBHBA Stadium once and Metricon Stadium once, could prove a danger period. Cats fans will want to see teams put to the sword this year and the Cats to win the winnable ones.
Nakia Cockatoo has been threatening to breakout for a couple of years now but has had a torrid run with soft tissue injuries – he injured his hamstring on three occasions in 2017. He may need to undergo a ‘Cyril Rioli’ style running revamp as he has injured his calf little over a week ago. Geelong don’t expect it to hinder his preparation for the first Round of the season.
Aside from Cockatoo, Geelong have been singing the praises of defender, Jake Kolodjashnij during the pre-season. Matthew Scarlett, who is now a defensive coach at Geelong, has stated that Kolodjashnij has stepped into the hole left by Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie really well during preseason. With Lachie Henderson missing the start of the season, expect Kolodjashnij to play tall early on but as Henderson returns we’ll see him get his hands on the ball a lot more.
Patrick Dangerfield is your safe bet here in all formats. He’s the clear number one pick in SuperCoach and is comfortably top five in all other formats. He’ll cost you a pretty penny in salary cap formats but he’s worth it, especially if you need a captain.
The forgotten midfielder at Geelong, Mitch Duncan, will be undervalued in draft formats for reasons only of his reputation as the fourth midfielder at Geelong.
Tim Kelly is the salary cap gold in the blue and white hoops. The injury to Scott Selwood along with a strong AFLX and JLT showing should see him line up in Round 1. He’s good for generating some much needed cash.
Ladder Prediction – Top 4
The addition of Gary Ablett and mature age draftee, Tim Kelly, strengthens both Geelong’s midfield and it’s forward line by virtue of Ablett and Patrick Dangerfield being able to rest forward and remain dangerous. The return of small forwards Lincoln McCarthy and Cory Gregson add more strings to Chris Scott’s bow as well. Geelong should improve their scoring in 2018 but to feature in the top 4 again this year they’ll need to maintain their strong defence without retired premiership heroes Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie.