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Jen Phelan - AFL Media  December 20, 2017 3:49 PM

Harry Taylor press conference Harry Taylor speaks to the media following the Cats first AFLX practice match
Harry Taylor in his normal defensive role - Geelong Cats,Harry Taylor

Harry Taylor in his normal defensive role

HARRY Taylor will happily return to defence if it helps Geelong avoid the "sting" of being bundled out of the preliminary finals for the third year running.

The Cats' swingman is set for the backline in 2018 after a stint in attack that occasionally paid dividends this season.

The retirement of premiership defenders Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie has prompted a rethink on where best to play Taylor, whose well-honed skills and composure make him a valuable commodity at either end.

The 31-year-old said he would do whatever it took to make sure the Cats didn't suffer a similar fate in 2018 to the past two seasons, where they've fallen at the final hurdle before the Grand Final.

"We've been really close the last couple of years and it certainly hurts - it stings a lot when you get so close and not to that last dance," Taylor said on Tuesday.

"But we're doing everything we can at this early stage of the pre-season, it is only December, but as much as we can to make sure we're ready to go.

"I'm happy to go where the team wants me to go, whether that's forward or back, Scotty and the rest of the coaching staff will let me know at some point.

"I just want to win games of footy and ultimately compete for a premiership; if that means me playing forward or back, I'm prepared to do whatever."

The Cats have loaded up with experience in the off-season, having re-recruited two-time Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett and experienced forward Stewart Crameri.

Taylor said the players weren't concerned about outside expectations place on the team after the arrival of Ablett in particular.

"It's not something we've spoken about internally, I'm sure it's polarised the outside audience and the supporters a lot more than it has inside the club," he said.

"The debate is fantastic for the game and it drives a lot of conversation during the week, and that's a great thing about our game; the opinions that everyone puts up."

Taylor also praised the development of Ryan Gardner, with the untried young defender set to push for a permanent spot in the backline in pre-season games.

"He's really improving, he's learnt a lot in the last few years; particularly last year he did some important jobs for us in the VFL on some really good players," he said.

"His pathway is upward trending, which is really important when you're a young player, you need to just keep showing up, keep ticking the boxes and making those little adjustments and improvements, and hopefully he'll push for selection at some stage."