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2018 preview: Cats backline

January 3, 2018 10:58 AM

Much will fall on Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson's shoulders down back in 2018 - Geelong Cats

Much will fall on Harry Taylor and Lachie Henderson's shoulders down back in 2018

With some big departures at the end of last season, take a look at how the Cats will structure up down back in 2018.

2018 Midfield Preview

2018 Forwardline Preview

Defenders depth

Zach Tuohy

Harry Taylor

Jake Kolodjashnij

Matthew Hayball

Ryan Gardner

Jed Bews

Lachie Henderson

Timm House

Zach Guthrie

Jackson Thurlow

Tom Stewart

The Cats have had their biggest loss of backline experience in a long time with the retirements of Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie. The Cats were able to mitigate previous backline departures of premiership defenders Darren Milburn (2011), Matthew Scarlett (2012) and Corey Enright (2016) by spreading them over a period of time. However, Mackie and Lonergan’s departures leave Harry Taylor as the Cats sole remaining premiership defender. 

Taylor’s return to the backline has been much talked about over the summer and whilst he may not be standing side by side with Tom Hawkins in the forwardline, expect him to still have plenty of attacking forays in 2018. Taylor’s key position support in the backline is another area of intrigue. Lachie Henderson’s arrival at the Cattery has been a huge success with the former Blue providing structure and drive for the Cats with minimal fanfare. Outside of Taylor and Henderson, the Cats have some young players who are putting their hands up to take on a key position defensive role. Ryan Gardner is now into his third season for the Cats and has developed a body capable of handling the AFL’s big forwards. Timm House is another who may look to hold a key defensive role for the club. Whilst playing mainly up forward in the Cats VFL side, House has shown potential to follow in Lonergan’s footsteps and switch ends of the ground. The Cats are also safe in the knowledge that Jake Kolodjashnij can player taller than his 193cm frame. Kolodjashnij was tried up the ground in 2017, but with the retirement may find himself playing the third tall role for the Cats defence.

It was the Cats medium/small defenders who were the highlight of the 2017 season. Zach Tuohy’s arrival from Carlton, Tom Stewart’s drafting from the Cats VFL side and Jed Bews’ development into a tough and damaging running defender reinvented the Cats backline. The fact that Tuohy (3rd), Stewart (5th) and Bews (9th) finished in the top ten of the Cats best and fairest provides an opportunity for further growth for the trio as they get to know each other’s style and habits better.

Jackson Thurlow may find himself back in the familiar surrounds of the defensive unit after being trialled up the ground in 2017. Returning from an ACL injury that wiped his entire 2016 season, Thurlow’s trademark pinpoint kicking could add a further bow to the Cats backline. He may however face serious competition from second year rookie Zach Guthrie who stunned many when he played nine games including two finals in his first AFL season. Guthrie’s poise and toughness beguiles his light frame and has won him many a fan in the Cats coaching staff and playing group.