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2018 preview: Cats forwardline

January 3, 2018 10:40 AM

Tom Hawkins and Daniel Menzel averaged the most goals per game for the Cats in 2017 - Geelong Cats

Tom Hawkins and Daniel Menzel averaged the most goals per game for the Cats in 2017

Take a look at the Cats players who will be aiming to be a part of the side's forwardline in 2018.

2018 Midfield Preview

2018 Backline Preview

Depth list:

Lincoln McCarthy

Daniel Menzel

Tim Kelly

Wylie Buzza

Lachie Fogarty

Esava Ratugolea

Quinton Narkle

Aaron Black

Tom Hawkins

Cory Gregson

Gryan Miers

Stewart Crameri

Sam Simpson

Jack Henry

Jamaine Jones

 

Richmond’s 2017 premiership success was built largely on a pressuring forwardline that moved away from a traditional two key forward set-up and instead focussed on small and medium forwards. Unluckily for the Cats, they were unable to replicate this format with injuries throughout the season to the Cats pressuring forwards including Lincoln McCarthy, Cory Gregson, Quinton Narkle, Brandan Parfitt and Nakia Cockatoo.

Club’s are loathe to focus on what has worked previously for other sides so don’t expect the Cats to replicate the Tigers’ winning formula in 2018. So what does that leave the make-up of the Geelong forwardline looking like? 

Tom Hawkins now becomes the Cats third most experienced player and perhaps the Cats most intriguing forward. Subject to much scrutiny from outside the club, Hawkins again produced a consistent year where he averaged over two goals a game for the sixth year running. Perhaps the biggest drop off for the monster forward was his contested marking which dropped from an average of nearly 2.5 per game in the previous three seasons to 1.6 in 2017. Hawkins’ presence, skill and leadership will see him again form a key part of the Cats forward set-up but who makes up the rest of the forwardline will be fascinating.

The Cats acquired ex-Don and Bulldog Stewart Crameri in the rookie draft and should he get through his niggling injuries of the past couple of seasons, could be an astute pickup for the club. He’ll face competition from Wylie Buzza, Rhys Stanley and Aaron Black for the Cats other big forward role.

Daniel Menzel continued to defy many people’s expectations in 2017 by playing 18 games. With two seasons now behind him since his return from multiple knee reconstructions, Menzel will face a different kind of pressure in 2018. Dropped from the Cats qualifying final side against Richmond, Menzel faced scrutiny in 2017 for a perceived lack of defensive pressure, the very stat Richmond was riding all the way to a grand final victory. However, Menzel was still able to average over two goals a game and had the Cats not been bereft of pressuring forwards due to injury, the deficiency may not have been as apparent.

Whilst not copying the Tigers’ blueprint to success, the Cats are clearly aware of the need to have available small and medium forwards in 2018. The recruitment of Tim Kelly, Lachlan Fogarty and Gryan Miers, all players who display elite qualities in this aspect of the game has set the tone for what to expect in 2018. Lincoln McCarthy and Cory Gregson, who have both shown their ability at AFL level adds another layer to the Cats options.

Finally, the Cats deep midfield will see many players resting in the forwardline. Opposition defenders could have to face Gary Ablett Jnr and Patrick Dangerfield in the forwardline at numerous times in 2018, however both are expected to play a majority of their time in the midfield. Sam Menegola has also shown that when he has his kicking boots on he has a major threat as well after he scored 17.20 in 2017 including five games of two or more goals.