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Cats confident they will claw their way back

Date

Emma Quayle

Retiring Matthew Scarlett leaves the MCG.

Retiring Matthew Scarlett leaves the MCG. Photo: Getty Images

ANDREW Mackie had plenty of words to describe what happened to Geelong in Saturday night's elimination final. ''Disappointing'' and ''shattering'' were two that came straight to mind, but the defender saw enough this season to feel certain that the Cats will not only challenge again next year but be a premiership contender for many more to come.

''No doubt. I know it's easy to say, but I really think we're in good shape,'' said Mackie, after the Cats' 16-point loss to Fremantle ended a run that had taken them to a preliminary final every year since 2007 and winning three flags along the way.

''We're going to have another couple of new recruits next year. Young Daniel Menzel's going to find his way off another knee reconstruction, Nathan Vardy's played a couple of games back and we've got some great players who have been taught the right way.

''We're going to be thereabouts again. No side that we play for in this jumper will ever rebuild, or anything like that. I feel we've got a lot of talent.''

Matthew Scarlett is the first player Geelong must replace in its line-up. The champion defender waved a low-key goodbye to supporters as he led the Cats off the ground on Saturday night, after his 284th and final game.

Paul Chapman has been in contract negotiations for much of the year and should play again, while Shannon Byrnes appears destined for Melbourne as a free agent. David Wojcinski, soon to turn 32, remains uncontracted after playing only four games this season.

While Corey Enright, Joel Corey and James Podsiadly are all in their 30s, the retirements last year of Cameron Ling, Cam Mooney, Brad Ottens and Darren Milburn left the Cats with quite a young list. It's one they are looking to boost via trading, with Gold Coast onballer Josh Caddy a target and they have a remaining Gary Ablett compensation pick up their sleeve.

The club used 10 first-gamers this year, ranging from 29-year-old ruckman Orren Stephenson to teenagers Billie Smedts, Jordan Murdoch and Josh Walker and rookies Jesse Stringer and Jonathan Simpkin.

While none have entrenched themselves in the senior line-up like Menzel, Mitch Duncan and Allen Christensen did last season, coach Chris Scott said the decision to blood so many newcomers had left the club better placed to handle what would be the ''incredibly difficult'' challenge of making next year's finals series.

''We certainly didn't put all our eggs into the 2011 basket and if we didn't do it then, we certainly didn't do it in the 2012 season,'' Scott said. ''We think, given the things we've tried to do to rejuvenate our list and give some experience to younger players, on a lot of fronts it's been a positive season.

''Still to say, with a straight face, that we thought our best footy was good enough to test anyone I think leaves us in a pretty good position.

''We certainly didn't plan for 10 debutants. I would have thought that exceeded our expectations, and the performance of some of those individuals probably exceeded our expectations,'' Scott said.

''I think the way we were able to integrate those players into the team was a little bit slow at times. Last year we had guys like Duncan and Menzel and Vardy and Christensen come in and it was quite seamless.

''I think we had a few more challenges blending the youth and experience this year and that's probably based on the numbers, but we're not going to commit ourselves to throwing everything into one season at the expense of the future. I think the last 24 months has given us a better chance to be very competitive in 2013, '14, '15.''

12 comments

  • Making the Prelim Final five years in a row….a bad start to 2012…limped into this year’s finals…The Cats assumed that things would just click. So even though ''disappointing'' and 'shattering'' are two words that might come to mind by Cats players…..to me, those words should be “over confident”. Mind you, better to go out now than to be belted by the Hawks in the GF. The only thing that might help Sydney in the GF will be if Franklin does his hammy and Sewell gets stuck in traffic.

    Commenter
    Insider
    Date and time
    September 10, 2012, 9:33AM
    • Speaking of over confident, last time I checked neither Hawks or Swans have made the GF yet. Cats won 3 premierships in 5 years, lets see if your club (presumably Hawks) can replicate that ,"Insider".

      Commenter
      Andy 82
      Date and time
      September 10, 2012, 12:26PM
    • This year the Swans flogged the Hawks early, then lost to them in a nail-biter a few weeks ago. Hawks deserve to be favourites but the Swans won't be pushovers. And no honest, sane person could ever truthfully accuse the Geelong Football Club of being over confident.

      Commenter
      KJ
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      September 10, 2012, 1:20PM
    • we would have met the hawks in the preliminary final, not the g/f - they won't be worried by the purple haze, so who knows if the same first quarter team turn up to that game? i was never over-confident but rekkun'd they'd meet a team with a mission. but i don't doubt the assessment of the article that they'll be a force in the competetion for a few years yet. some of their superstars are yet young and they've a jesus-makeup pick to come. get another canny defender and a solid linkage player from middle to the forward line, then i think mackie is about on the spot.

      Commenter
      samuel coleridge
      Location
      xanadu
      Date and time
      September 10, 2012, 1:42PM
    • "The only thing that might help Sydney in the GF will be if Franklin does his hammy and Sewell gets stuck in traffic." And the Cats' players were "over confident"? Perhaps you'd better heed your own advice insider.

      Commenter
      Basso Divor
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      September 10, 2012, 5:15PM
    • "... better to go out now than to be belted by the Hawks in the GF"

      That scenario is not possible insider - Had The Cats progressed to next Friday's game against Adelaide and prevailed, they would have met Hawthorn in a preliminary final the following week. Only one of those teams would have made the GF.

      Commenter
      Basso Divor
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      September 10, 2012, 5:27PM
  • As a Cats' fan I'm not too shattered. After all, it's an even year as were 08 and 10. There's a massive upside with the young blokes mentioned in the yarn and all look like being super players for the next decade. Many of the stalwarts are still under 30 so they have years to provide more guidance. And the seconds continued the Geelong tradition by edging out Hawthorn's seconds in a final yesterday and there is much more talent there who have yet to play seniors, led by Kersten and with Stringer (a Stevie J in the making after his club-imposed suspension??), Guthrie, Smedts, Walker, Horlin-Smith and more waiting in the wings. Duncan, Christensen, Motlop, Vardy and Menzel show the Geelong development style works. At least I'm glad I don't support a club such as Melbourne, Footscray or Port which just don't seem to have a clue.

    Commenter
    Laurie Mills
    Location
    Bowen
    Date and time
    September 10, 2012, 10:06AM
    • Laurie, I'm with you word for word - though I'd actually like to see the clubs that are struggling get back on a consistently competitive footing. And I feel rotten that Port Power, a club with a great history but on its knees right now, should have suffered the tragic loss it did today.

      Port Adelaide, may this be a turning point. Strength to you.

      Commenter
      Elly
      Location
      South Geelong
      Date and time
      September 10, 2012, 2:34PM
    • I'm a Hawks fan. I think Geelong will be back next year, but any era has to end, the draft, natural cycles of motivation and commitment and luck all contribute to the gradual decline of any team - look at the Hawks from the 80's, 90's, the Lions from the early 2000's, and the Australian cricket team.
      It's very difficult to remain at the pinnacle for a very long time at elite level, and the Cats showed a mental frailty this year that simply wasn't part of their makeup for that golden period - at times they looked frustrated, fatigued and unsure which is sign of things starting to unravel.
      They have been a delight to watch and have produced some of the game's greats but it can't be sustained for ever.

      Commenter
      Jon
      Location
      Melb
      Date and time
      September 10, 2012, 4:12PM
  • I am still trying to work out - who is the bigger whinger Brad or Chris

    Commenter
    Gaz
    Location
    Yarrawonga
    Date and time
    September 10, 2012, 12:36PM

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