Geelong Cats 2012 Team Preview

GEELONG CATS2011
Ladder Position: 2nd
Win/Loss: 19/3
Percentage:157.38Coming off yet another Premiership Flag, Geelong will have to ensure the fitness and desire of their older brigade is at a premium if they are to finally go ‘back to back’.Heavily favored to slide after the loss of Gary Ablett to the Gold Coast Suns, the Cats showed that experience yields results after taking the finals series by storm on the back of strong home and away showing. Chris Scott’s youthful presence seemed to work wonders for a side that was last seen trudging off the MCG pitch to the sound of ‘Good Old Collingwood Forever’ in the 2010 Preliminary Final. Promoting a more disciplined style of football to contrast Bomber Thompson’s dynamic handball play, Scott was able to get the best out of a playing group whom many felt would slip away in 2011 after the loss of their Premiership Coach and their Club Champion. Led by Captain Cameron Ling, Geelong were able to use their vast maturity to grind out a number of close results in the opening half of the season, before exploding in a second half that included an 186 point annihilation of Melbourne at Simmonds and a valuable 15 goal victory in what was labeled a ‘dead-rubber’ against Collingwood in Round 24. The Cats went on to beat Hawthorn, West Coast and finally Collingwood to secure a famous Grand Final Win.

In 2012, the Cats line-up will again be tweaked. Gone are Captain Ling and Brad Ottens the stalwart, Geelong will be relying on their newly appointed 22 year old Skipper Joel Selwood and an assorted pool of young ruck men to keep them in and around that coveted first position on the ladder. With the likes of Jimmy Bartel, Paul Chapman, Matthew Scarlett, Steve Johnson, James Kelly and Joel Corey aging; Allen Christensen’s break-out 2011 couldn’t have come at a better time, nor could Tom Hawkins finally delivering on his potential in a three goal Grand Final performance. Desire will be Geelong’s greatest enemy this year as they look to yet another grueling season.

KEY PLAYERS

Harry Taylor: A Stephen Wells masterstroke when he was picked in the 2007 draft, Taylor metaphorically took the defensive reigns from Matt Scarlett for Geelong last year. With Scarlett expected to once again pursue a rebounding roll, Taylor and defensive partner Tom Lonergan will have to stand tall in defence and work with a young Half Back Line. Taylor will be expected to provide leadership through example as he mans up on the new-breed ‘roaming’ key forward .

Joel Selwood: Selwood has never known failure as a Geelong player; he has been a key contributor to 3 Premierships and 4 Grand Final appearances in his short time at the club Now, however, he will be tested on a whole new level after being handed the vacant captaincy. Chris Scott will rely on him to continue putting his head over the ball.

Tom Hawkins:After finally collecting his potential and unleashing it in a devastating Grand Final display, Hawkins will find a Mooney-less forward line awaiting him in 2012. James Podsiadly has aged another year, and Hawkins must ensure that he does not regress.YOUNG GUNSAllen Christensen:Going into just his third season as an AFL footballer, the exciting on-baller will be a key player in the Cats midfield. Explosive and full of energy, Christensen will look to step into the role that Gary Ablett played after transitioning from the forward line.Trent West: West has gone from #4 in the pecking order to #1 in just a few short years. Getting a run of games alongside Brad Ottens last season, West will now be considered Geelong’s senior ruck man. This writer isn’t particularly convinced of the big man’s ability, and believes that Geelong’s gamble on Orren Stephenson may well have to be a master stroke.

Mitch Brown:Injury ravaged once again in 2011 after finally debuting, Brown will look to lady luck to give him the chance to finally shine in Geelong’s forward line come season 2012. Tough and robust, Brown needs to sting a sequence of games together or risk being written off.FINAL WORDSGeelong are a side built on explosive skill and unmatched desire: Whether they can find the latter to fire them towards a strong push in 2012 will be vital. If they lose it, as so many great sides have, expect the Cats to fall into the chasing pack.PREDICTION

5th

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