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Time may finally be catching AFL's Cats

Geelong's time as one of the AFL's elite teams could be coming to an end as a number of emerging contenders look to replace them.

Time may finally be catching AFL's Cats

Geelong's time as one of the AFL's elite teams could be coming to an end as a number of emerging contenders look to replace them.

Fortress Geelong and three all-time AFL greats will only take you so far.

Eight years after Chris Scott started his senior coaching career with the third premiership of the Cats' mighty era, the clock is now ticking at GMHBA Stadium.


After reaching successive preliminary finals, the Cats struggled for traction last season despite Gary Ablett's much-anticipated return to join Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood as their Big Three.

The worry for Scott and Geelong is that the elimination final loss to Melbourne becomes what it looked like - an emerging team taking the Cats' place among the elite.

A few numbers for the Cats faithful to digest. They were 8-1 at home last season but a worrying 5-9 up the highway and beyond.

At the MCG they were 2-6, with wins against Melbourne and Collingwood.

Are Geelong much more than Kardinia Park bullies?

There is no doubting the greatness of Dangerfield, Selwood and Ablett but here again the numbers do not lie.

Dangerfield turns 29 next month, Selwood is 31 and Ablett hits 35 in May.

What is their capacity to give the improvement that Geelong need?

"We should be optimistic that he (Dangerfield) is going to have a good year," Scott predicted on Fox Footy.

Selwood has spent time on the wing in the pre-season and Scott said the esteemed skipper knows his time as a player is not infinite.

"He's as aware as he's ever been that it's later than you think in your footy career," Scott said.

Ablett is the tricky one of the trio, with the Cats keen to play him forward more often and give more midfield time to younger teammates such as Brandan Parfitt and Mitch Duncan.

Scott said everyone - the Cats, the media and the player himself - need to redefine their expectations around Ablett.

"He certainly feels like he has the potential to play on beyond this year, but he'll need to redefine his role, at least compared to when he was at his prime," Scott said.

Asked if Ablett is happy about that, Scott said he "has to be".

"In my conversations with him, I'm supremely confident that he has his head around a slightly-redefined role," the coach said.

Another interesting issue is the future of midfielder Tim Kelly, who starred last year in his debut season.

He wanted a transfer to West Coast because of his young family but there was no way the Cats would accept the deal offered.

Scott is rapt with Kelly's professionalism and is also hopeful that the worst is over for the on-baller and his partner Caitlin Miller.

"In some ways, they're feeling as if they're over the hump a little bit; the (three) kids are past the stage where they're really high maintenance," Scott says.

"Now they're just high maintenance.

"He's settled into Geelong as well."

Overall, Geelong have not stood still and recruits Luke Dahlhaus and Gary Rohan should add bite to their attack.

Youngsters Parfitt, Jack Henry and Esava Ratugolea have great potential and Geelong's defence looks as strong as any in the AFL.

"The pleasing thing is we still go into this pre-season with the expectation pretty high," Scott said.

But Geelong could be at risk of becoming less than the sum of their parts.

GEELONG

Coach: Chris Scott

Captain: Joel Selwood

Last five years: 5-10-3-3-8

Premierships: 9 (1925, 1931, 1937, 1951-52, 1964, 2007, 2009, 2011).

Key five: Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood, Tom Hawkins, Mark Blicavs, Tom Stewart.

One to watch: Esava Ratugolea. The power forward and part-time ruckman made a massive impression at the start of last season with his first eight AFL games, before a broken ankle put him out of action. If Ratugolea maintains his rapid development, he's a big plus for the Cats.

Ins: Tom Atkins (Geelong VFL), Oscar Brownless (Geelong Falcons, father-son), Jordan Clark (Claremont), Luke Dahlhaus (Western Bulldogs), Darcy Fort (Central District), Ben Jarvis (Norwood), Jacob Kennerley (Norwood), Nathan Kreuger (South Adelaide, Stefan Okunbor (category B rookie), Gary Rohan (Sydney), Blake Schlensog (next generation academy), Jake Tarca (South Adelaide)

Outs: Aaron Black (delisted), Stewart Crameri (delisted), Ryan Gardner (delisted), Cory Gregson (delisted), Matthew Hayball (delisted), George Horlin-Smith (Gold Coast), Timm House (delisted), Lincoln McCarthy (Brisbane), Daniel Menzel (Sydney), Jordan Murdoch (Gold Coast), Jackson Thurlow (Sydney)

Best line-up:

B: Tom Stewart, Harry Taylor, Jed Bews

HB: Zach Tuohy, Mark Blicavs, Jack Henry

C: Mitch Duncan, Joel Selwood, Cam Guthrie

HF: Gary Ablett, Esava Ratugolea, Brandan Parfitt

F: Luke Dahlhaus, Tom Hawkins, Sam Menegola

R: Rhys Stanley, Patrick Dangerfield, Tim Kelly

I: Lachie Henderson, Gary Rohan, Scott Selwood, Quinton Narkle

Predicted finish: 8th

AAP


AAP




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