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Cracks in Cats castle: Tom Harley rumoured out for 2009 with degenerative knee condition

Tom Harley’s knee

The rumour is flying that the Geelong skipper could miss the season with a degenerative knee condition.

Yesterday morning on radio SEN, former player and current player manager Liam Pickering aired the rumour that Tom Harley, who has been having a public struggle to be fit for round 1 after off-season surgery to mend a knee cartilage injury, actually has a degenerative problem with the knee that could put him out for the entire 2009 season. I stress that this is only a rumour, there has been no confirmation from the club and very little in the way of chatter on fan boards about this. Pickering, a former Geelong player who remains close with many at the club, has been right on these sorts of rumours before, so his words have to be treated with a modicum of respect.

Let’s say for the sake of argument that this unsubstantiated claim is factual. What would be the implications for the Geelong backline, limited as it is by the indefinite foot problems suffered by Matthew Egan? The three starting key position defenders at the top of the depth chart would then be Matthew Scarlett, Harry Taylor and Darren Milburn. Milburn, who turns 32 in April, was supposed to be playing his last year and eventually giving way for youth, if the natural order of things was to go as planned. If Harley is cactus, the Cats would probably have to rely on Milburn more, especially early in the season. Milburn’s own fitness is not guaranteed, of course, as he has a history of hamstring issues.

If the match committee decides Milburn can’t be relied upon, then the Cats may look to youth – arguably the most prudent course of action given that Scarlett turns 30 this year as well, though the decision may be made more with an eye to the fast-closing premiership window than the long term. Then again, Taylor playing 18 games last year didn’t stop them reaching the last Saturday in September. So who could be this year’s Taylor?

Of the most recent crop of youngsters, the obvious candidates are early draft picks Tom Gillies and Mitch Brown, with both players able to play at either end of the ground, though Gillies is probably aiming back and Brown forward at this stage. However, a name that you might not have heard much before who could sneak through on the inside rail is Dan McKenna, a 2007 draftee who was one of two players nominated by Harley in this article as likely to be given the chance to show their wares in the NAB Cup – the other being rookie-listed Jeremy Laidler, who is well down the pecking order. McKenna is yet another tall who hasn’t decided which end of the ground he’s best suited for. Fan opinion is that McKenna’s VFL form last year wasn’t great, but he’s looking better in preseason training – but then again, so is Laidler.

The other long-shot structural move that the Geelong hierarchy might be considering is shifting Tom Lonergan back to his original spot in defence, which would have the added bonus of solving the problem of how to deal with the return of Tom Hawkins to the Cats’ starting 22. Sounds like a nice fit, the main problem with that being Hawkins’ own fitness, as his chronically injured foot is kept in the softest of soft cotton wool.

The Cats’ intra-club match is on this Friday, so I’ll toodle down to take a look at this story unfolding. That is, unless I’m frogmarched out by security. 😀



  1. Mark

    February 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    Very early to call at this stage. it does sound like a hawthorn supporter who is scared of the cats this year though. Dont worry monty without harley the cats will be a powerhouse!

  2. Brendan

    February 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Harley could open up a spot on the list for RANGA.

  3. Will

    February 9, 2009 at 1:34 am

    Would it open a spot for RANGA? prismall has left as well so there is that spot as well right? It would only take one more injury to a midfielder and he would be in? What do you think Molly? great write up by the way

  4. Chad

    February 9, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Cats are a tough one, so hard to get into the 22, but if u can gamble (pun intended) on how will get games early they will score well.

    Still a bit too early to tell, Friday could be the day, keep us informed monty 😉 great stuff. Oh and slightly off topic, are you jumping off Gallman now and onto Kite?

  5. Brad

    February 9, 2009 at 9:36 am

    G’day Chad,
    From all reports Kite and Petrenko did absolutely nothing in the All Stars game on the weekend to convince Crows match commitee that are worthy of selection in round 1.
    This makes it interesting from a fantasy footy perspective bicking a rookie back.

  6. Chad

    February 9, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Someone has to get a game Brad, Kite could be the man i believe they are looking at Petrenko for a small forward position.

  7. Davey

    February 9, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Mackie can play tall and Bomber has used him on a big fwd on more than one occasion. could hurt his DT scores if they were to go with him.

  8. Rupe

    February 9, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    Kite actually did ok on Saturday. Didn’t star, but did alright.

  9. Disco (UK)

    February 9, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Good call Loneregan up back. If Tomahawk isn’t playing, then Gamble will be.

    Here’s hoping in a GFC intra-club match Ranga tags Ling!

  10. AFL Blog - ContestedFooty

    February 10, 2009 at 10:56 am

    Tom Hawkins has to be one of the most under performing forwards in the competition considering his possible supply.

    Really disappointed in the Harley injury, i was considering him for fantasy this year.

  11. mikka

    February 10, 2009 at 11:43 am

    what about donahue hes gotta be a shot also and what is the go with egan i have heard that he is sprinting but is on crutches, why would geelong keep him on the list if he was buggered

  12. Chad

    February 10, 2009 at 11:54 am

    looks like your sources are confirmed there monty

    GEELONG’S 2009 season has taken a hit before it’s even started with news that inspirational captain Tom Harley is unlikely to play until at least the end of April.

    miss first 4-5 games.

  13. Ben

    February 10, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I think Ranga has Matt Egan’s rookie spot, not sure. Could open up a spot on the list for Laidler though

  14. Renuo

    February 10, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Tom Harley looks to be out for 4 weeks (main page of

  15. chris

    February 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    With all this talk of other teams copying the Hawk’s defensive ‘zone’, I’m beginning to wonder whether defender’s scores this year will be lower than previous years. Anyone have an opinion on this? Will the running defender still exist?

  16. chris

    February 10, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Monty I reckon a blog speculating whether changes for the 09 season (new team strategies / rule changes) will impact DT/SC scores would be really useful…

    We all saw what tagging defenders (shaw/mcleod etc) did last year…

  17. Chad

    February 10, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Birchall, Guerra and Ladson still scored fine last year chris. Zone might actually help defenders (more kick-to-kick in the backline.

  18. jarrad

    February 10, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    will enright still be any good?

    he might have to do more defensive work if harley doesnt come up

    who would be a good pick instaed of enright?

  19. the Cool Cat

    February 10, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    @ AFL Blog

    Are u being serious? Hawkins one of the most underated considering his supply… the kid is 20 and has only played 15 games. i think u should wait until he has fully developed before u make a statement like that.. do u think J Brown was dominating when he was 20? No

  20. Nick

    February 10, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Hawkins plays like a meat-head. Trying to brute his way through everything then kick a hero punt and preying it goes near one of this teammates or the goal. He plays like the sort of guys I used to play against who were good purely because they were huge.

    I’m happy to take that back if he plays with some thought this season.

  21. Damo

    February 11, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Nick that’s what all those coaches and dvd’s and training sessions are for mate – to teach kids how to be afl footballers. Hawkins will be a gun, but probably not this year.

  22. Hammer

    February 11, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Just to stoke the fire a little, Brown played in his first premiership when he was 20 in a team that is arguably better than the Cats of today. Granted, he had a bit more experience at that stage.

    I hope Hawkins will dominate too, I think he is still learning how to cope with bigger bodies/better fitness compared to what he was used to in his junior levels.

  23. ryz

    February 11, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    yo chris, dont think the zone tactics are going to hurt anyone other than the opposition forwards who are going to get less supply if the zone actually pays off.

    our backline last year would generally switch the ball once or twice before moving down the wings / coridoor, meaning alot of cheap stats for guys like goo laddo hodge and birch. dont think its a /- kinda deal, should pan out to be around the same i would have thought

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