Cats fight for selection

Chris Scott addresses the media on Wednesday morning. (Louisa Jones) 209929_02

By Luke Voogt

Competition for a place in the Cats side is heating up, with young guns and even star recruit Jack Steven facing a fight for selection.

“It’s a good problem for us to have,” Chris Scott a told a press conference on Wednesday.

“We’re just trying to work through whether we change a team that’s in good form – albeit only off one game.

“We’ve got some guys who we think are in really good training form and have benefitted well from the lockdown.”

The selection predicament grew more difficult after Geelong’s 61-point thumping of Hawthorn, with standout performances from Rhys Stanley and Brandan Parfitt.

Stanley got involved straight away, following up his ruck work to send the ball long inside 50 for the Cats’ first goal within 14 seconds of play.

The ruckman kicked two of his own and tallied nine score involvements, six clearances and six inside 50s.

Parfitt showed superb courage and commitment to ground-level contests, a part of his game that has improved dramatically over recent years.

His physicality and ability to win the inside ball was evident as he finished with 19 disposals, 10 tackles, eight clearances and four score involvements.

Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood, Quinton Narkle, Tom Atkins and Luke Dalhaus also had impressive outings.

But players like Jake Kolodjashnij, Nakia Cockatoo, Jordan Clark and former Saint Jack Steven are banging on the door for selection.

Adelaide transfer Josh Jenkins is also in contention, although back issues have sidelined him so far following the restart.

“We’ve got a group of half a dozen guys who will play good amounts of AFL football, if not most of it, this year,” Scott said.

“We’ll find a way to open that opportunity for them.”

Scott looked forward to seeing Cockatoo play in a 16-on-16 practice match between Geelong’s and Carlton’s secondary sides prior to their Saturday night clash.

The exciting midfielder has not played since 2018 due to hamstring and posterior cruciate ligament (knee) injuries.

“We don’t want to put too much pressure on him,” Scott said.

“There are still quite a few steps between this week and him getting back to AFL level.”

The Cats planned to rest Gary Ablett for at least some of their remaining games, which might give some players an opening.

“We want him at his best when he plays,” Scott explained.

“We don’t want to put him in a position where he’s got to labour through soreness or get involved in the grind of an AFL season.

“But he’s playing well – it’s hard to keep him out when he’s playing this way.”

The Cats were “wary” of the Blues who, despite losing their first two, have won five of eight quarters, Scott said.

“They really dominated the best team [Richmond, round one] in the comp for a period of the game and after being seven goals to zip down against Melbourne, really dominated them as well.

“Seven goals down, the game was over to most observers, and really in the end they should have won.”

The Cats would need a plan to restrict Carlton young gun Patrick Cripps, Scott said.

“He’s a star … certainly one of the best young players in the comp, and can help them get the game on their terms.”

Carlton could score an upset on Saturday night, but Geelong should be too strong given their depth and many players fighting for their spot on a weekly basis.

Geelong by 15 points.

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