Cats ready for AFLW season opener

Geelong Cats AFLW captain Meg McDonald. (Marcel Berens)

Ash Bolt

Geelong will be looking to get its 2022 AFLW season off to a good start when it travels to Arden Street to take on North Melbourne on Saturday.

The Cats will face the Kangaroos in their opening game for the second straight year and will be hoping to improve on their 62-point defeat last year.

Captain Meg McDonald said the team was full of confidence after a strong preseason and a comfortable win over Richmond in a practice match before Christmas.

“What North Melbourne were able to do – which good sides do – last year is [made it so] we didn’t look or play like ourselves or how we planned to. I think the focus going in this week is we stick to what we know works, and we do that no matter what,” she said.

“This is a cliché, but you go into a practice game and you say, ‘this one is about us, this is about executing our game style’. But the messaging has been largely the same this week, and will be when we do our [opposition] stuff.

“We know that our game style and those things that I spoke about basing it around – effort, grit and intensity – will challenge any team.”

The Cats will unveil several new recruits this week and will be looking to fill holes left by senior players Aasta O’Connor, Renee Garing and Richelle Cranston.

O’Connor retired at the end of 2021, Cranston was delisted before signing with the Bulldogs and Garing announced late last year she would miss the season while pregnant with her first child.

The Cats brought nine new players into the club, Chloe Scheer from Adelaide, Chantel Emonson from Melbourne and number two draft pick Georgie Prespakis.

McDonald said she was looking forward to see the new Cats take to the field.

“The beauty of having so many new players is that they don’t have that shared [thought] ‘2021 was no good’ in the back of their minds,” she said.

“That’s what we’ve got to embrace. They’re so enthusiastic and fresh, and they want to learn so much, and they want to show what they’ve got.

“They want to earn the respect of their teammates and earn their spot in the team, and we should all be doing that, week-in, week-out. We should all be going out there to earn the trust of the player next to [us], and that’s what they want to do, and I think we’ve learnt from them.

“I’m excited to see many of them play this weekend – I’m sure many more will play throughout the season because they’re really integral to how we’re going to go forward.”