As part of a club-by-club series, we look at Mark Thompson’s push for one last flag with his stable of stars.
Live selections: 17, 28, 40, 42, 56
Rookie promotion selections: 65 (Jeremy Laidler)
There was only going to be one hole in Geelong’s depth charts this year, as the rest of the list is still in that pact to push for one more flag. It became clear fairly early this season that Matthew Egan‘s career was over, sad as that may have been. The Cats were at least able to send off captain Tom Harley with another premiership, but he has also retired, and with the Cats dropping Dan McKenna their tall defender stocks have been halved. You could argue that Andrew Mackie is tall enough to play key position, though he rarely does so and the Cats don’t want him to anyway. You could contend that despite his sub-190cm size Darren Milburn could be used at times to mind the third tall, but when he was asked to do that in 2009 he was exploited on the odd occasion to devastating effect. No, the Cats have only retained Matthew Scarlett and Harry Taylor as genuine homegrown tall backs, with Tom Gillies the only cover after being blooded for six games out of the last eight home & away matches of the season just gone.
This means that the recruitment of Marcus Drum from Fremantle becomes very important to the Cats’ structure in 2010. With no picks until #17 in this year’s draft, they are unlikely to find another Taylor type who can immediately slot in to support the big stars. That’s not to say that they won’t try, but keep in mind that despite their willingness to throw Taylor into the deep end two years ago, they were much more reluctant this year with the likes of McKenna and Gillies. Keep an eye on the promoted rookie Laidler, though, who despite being a midfielder/forward spent his one senior game in 2009 minding James Polkinghorne, which is a third tall back role if I ever saw it.
Elsewhere in the Geelong depth charts, it may be a little unfair of the media to harp on the Cats’ lack of pace as I suspect they will do whenever (if?) they get beaten. After all, the Lions flag sides were never particularly pacy. It’s going to be an ongoing issue nevertheless, which may be solved via some of their late picks or rookies like Ranga Ediriwickrama. The history with Brent Prismall two seasons ago and Simon Hogan this year does not instil fantasy coaches with confidence that coach Mark Thompson is going to waste a 22 spot blooding youngsters for the sake of it.