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2022 AFL Team Previews: Geelong Cats

March 1st 2022, 12:06pm, By: Jack Tobin

Geelong Cats Team Preview

The Cats have got one last roll of the dice in 2022 as their first flag since 2011 continues to elude them. Does this aging Geelong list have what it takes to deliver a premiership? Or was last year’s Preliminary Final a sign of the end?

Jack Tobin will be previewing EVERY team in the lead up to the 2022 season, while PuntingInDanger and his crew will be back this year to give their betting tips on every game. Be sure to head to the AFL Tips page for regular updates! 

Geelong Cats Season Preview

Squad

In: Jonathon Ceglar (Hawthorn), Tyson Stengle (Delisted Free Agent), Toby Conway (Pick 24), Mitch Knevitt (Pick 25), James Willis (Pick 32), Flynn Kroeger (Pick 48), Cooper Whyte (Pick 64)

Out: Jordan Clark (Fremantle) Darcy Fort (Brisbane), Nathan Kreuger (Collingwood) 

It was an unusually quiet trade period from an acquisition point for the Cats, who brought in Jonathon Ceglar in a surprise ruck swap while adding a ruck for the future in Toby Conway at pick 24. The Cats were disappointed to lose 21 year old Jordan Clark to Fremantle, as well as 22 year old Nathan Kreuger to Collingwood.

It’s difficult to get a read on what Geelong are going to do this season. They’re clearly in win now mode, however they can’t keep running back the same group of veterans and the same game plan that has seen them fall short in September time after time since 2011. The likes of Brandon Parfitt, Quinton Narkle, Sam De Koning, Max Holmes and Cooper Stephens need to be integrated in the Cats best 22 not only for what they can provide now, but to ensure they don’t want to leave as has happened with many Geelong youngsters who have been starved of opportunity in recent seasons.

The Cats have played a high possession, low risk brand of football under Chris Scott but they haven’t been able to cope with the manic surge sides such as Melbourne and Richmond over the past few seasons. They’ve been stubborn to their style, however they’re going to need to evolve their game style if they want to compete in 2022.

Geelong had the second best defence in the AFL last season, conceding an average score of just 66 points per game. There doesn’t need to be much restructuring down there, however in the up forward will be where Geelong will have to make some changes. Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins are an elite duo, but the players around them need to change. Tyson Stengle will add some serious spark as a genuine small forward, and the Cats will need to figure out whether Gary Rohan or Esava Ratugolea gives them their best structure in front of the ball. Geelong has been stubborn with Gary Rohan, but his finals performances are a large reason as to why the Cats have fallen short in the last few seasons.

Breakout Player: Cooper Stephens

A difficult club to choose a breakout player for given the Cats reluctance to give games to their younger players however by all reports, Cooper Stephens is ready to burst onto the scene in 2022. Stephens was taken at pick 16 in the 2019 draft, and at 188cm provides a big point of difference to the Geelong midfield. Patrick Dangerfield has had an interrupted preseason, meaning there will likely be some midfield opportunities for Stephens early in the season. Stephens’ contested game and his engine will be a major asset for the aging Cats midfield.

What Do The Cats Need To Do In 2022?

Geelong has to tweak their game plan and personnel if they want to compete for a premiership in 2022. They need to be willing to play a faster, forward half based game instead of the slow possession brand they’ve built under Chris Scott. With that change in style needs to come with some adjustments to the personnel, with the likes of Quinton Narkle needing to be given more time up the ground to add speed to the Geelong midfield. Chris Scott has spoken about changing the Cats game plan, but how quickly can this experienced Geelong outfit buy into a new system?

VERDICT

geelong cats preview

Geelong are one of the hardest teams to predict this season, if they get it right then they’ll definitely be a top four side. If it goes pear shaped they could easily miss the eight. The likelihood is that it falls somewhere in the middle, they didn’t improve from a list aspect during the trade period so it’s hard to place them above the other Preliminary Finalists from last season. They’ve still got too much talent and experience to not play finals barring an abundance of injuries. The start of the season may be tricky for the Cats as they begin to implement a new game plan, but they’ll still be well entrenched in the top eight.  

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