Zach Guthrie has surprised everyone in his first preseason at Geelong and the young rookie is loving every minute of it.
After an impressive JLT Community series where he averaged 21 disposals across two matches, Guthrie compiled another efficient performance in Friday night’s VFL match.
The 18-year-old was named best afield with 15 disposals, four rebound 50s and a team high six hard ball gets in the 29-point loss to the Bombers.
Guthrie played predominantly across half-back and matched up on former Brisbane Lion Josh Green for significant periods.
“(Green) has got a pretty good craft around goal and he’s pretty hard to stop when you give him the front position so I had to really be on guard tonight,” Guthrie said after the match.
“You need to challenge yourself if you want to improve, so probably just taking the opportunity to do the best I can to get used to playing on good small forwards.”
The match also saw Zach play with his two older brothers, Josh (VFL list) and Cameron (AFL), the first time in their careers that they lined up as a trio.
“I think I’ve only played with Josh when I filled in with him in under 10s and Cam just about the 10 minutes he made it through the JLT game,” Guthrie said.
All three linked up numerous times throughout the match and all were named in the best players.
The strong performance from Zach capped off a month which saw him showcase his talents at AFL level, which he didn’t expect to feature in so early when he first arrived at the club.
“It has been really good to get a couple of opportunities at the top level,” he said.
“It was probably a bit unexpected to get the call up, but once I did, I really just wanted to play the best I could to hopefully get a game in my first year.”
Hearing the news he would play in the JLT Community Series was a proud moment for Guthrie, especially hearing it from a former Cat.
“I was told by Corey Enright which was pretty fitting, I’ve done a fair bit of work with him in my first preseason,” Guthrie said.
Despite the hype surrounding him and his desire to play at the top level, Guthrie isn’t getting too far ahead of himself.
The Cats rookie will be in contention for round one but if he doesn’t get selected, Guthrie will look to continue developing his game with the VFL Cats.
“I’d obviously love to play round one, that’s been the goal since I did play in the first JLT game so if I was lucky enough to get the opportunity, I’d be wrapped.
“If not, just look to go back and play the best footy I can in the VFL and hopefully, if possible, get a game later in the season,” Guthrie said.
With his ability to impact the contest already at a high standard, Guthrie is hopeful playing in the VFL will help develop other parts of his game, such as leadership.
“As I’ve played a couple of games now, just taking ownership on the field now that I’m getting used to the roles,” He said.
“Now that I’m becoming familiar with it, it’s about becoming more of a leader.”
Geelong VFL Coach Shane O’Bree sees the potential in Guthrie and believes he is worthy of being discussed as a possible rookie elevation in 2017.
“He’s going really well Zach, so it’s good to have these sort of dilemmas as a club,” O’Bree said.
“(Guthrie) is calm, he sets up well and he knows where to be at the right time whether it’s defensively or in attack.”