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2018 preview: Cats midfield

January 3, 2018 10:46 AM

Mitch Duncan flew under the radar due to star teammates like Patrick Dangerfield despite his incredible 2017 season - Geelong Cats

Mitch Duncan flew under the radar due to star teammates like Patrick Dangerfield despite his incredible 2017 season

Take a look at which players will be putting their hand up for a spot in the Cats midfield for 2018. 

2018 Forwardline Preview

2018 Backline Preview

Midfield depth

Rhys Stanley

Brandan Parfitt

Gary Ablett Jnr

Nakia Cockatoo

Zac Smith

Joel Selwood

Scott Selwood

Charlie Constable

Jordan Murdoch

Mitch Duncan

Sam Menegola

Cam Guthrie

Jordan Cunico

George Horlin-Smith

James Parsons

Patrick Dangerfield

Mark O’Connor

Ryan Abbott

Mark Blicavs

The Cats midfield will be tracked and scrutinised by Cats and opposition fans alike in 2018. Gary Ablett Jnr’s arrival has given the Cats one of the competition's most dangerous midfields with the superstar joining Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan in 2018. Whilst Selwood and Dangerfield continue to get many well deserved plaudits, Duncan made significant gains in 2017 that put position him in the same echelon as the Cats much vaunted “Dangerwood” combo. 2017 saw Duncan achieve career high’s for disposals (29.08), tackles (5.33), clearances (4.29), rebounds from 50 (2.17) and inside 50s (4.21). These numbers stack up with anyone in the competition and give credence to calls to have Duncan’s name right alongside the star trio of Selwood, Dangerfield and Ablett. 

Like any contender, the Cats still need to find ways to rejuvenate and make their midfield less predictable and the depth of the midfield group should allow that. Scott Selwood and Sam Menegola both held their own at various points in 2017 and should continue to improve in 2018. Brandan Parfitt and Nakia Cockatoo both got short opportunities to play in the midfield in 2017 and expect this time to increase for 2018.

Zac Smith achieved the title of the Cats number one ruck in 2017 and has already put focus on joining the competition’s best ruckman this season. Smith has shown a inclination to prefer to have the ruck role all to himself on gameday which has meant that Rhys Stanley has needed to make himself more of a forward to maintain a spot in the AFL side. Mark Blicavs is another who has seen a change to his role. A fractured ankle against the Crows in Adelaide severely dented the big man’s season as well as a change to the AFL’s third man up rule. Blicavs is a strong leader amongst the Cats playing group and the coaches value his ability to follow direction and play a team role when required. What that role looks like in 2018 is yet to be seen but don’t be surprised to find Blicavs in the centre square, on a wing, down back or up forward at points in the season. 

Jordan Cunico and Mark O’Connor both were given the opportunity to experience AFL football in 2017 and don’t be surprised to see either again in 2018. Cunico has already caught the eye of many during the pre-season whilst O’Connor will continue to feel more comfortable with the game, just over 12 months since his move from Gaelic football. After a season destroyed by injury, George Horlin-Smith could be forgiven for being the forgotten man of the Cats team. Now 25 years of age, Horlin-Smith is entering the prime of his career and the Cats will hope he gets a good run with injuries to allow him to show his worth.