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Cats learn lessons from past

Matthew Scarlett calling the shots at training - Geelong Cats,Matthew Scarlett
Matthew Scarlett calling the shots at training
"It's (training) more intense than I've seen in years and that's because of the attitude of the players and the coaches to try and improve dramatically."
Brian Cook - CEO

They are two of the few remaining at Geelong from the club's breakthrough premiership in 2007 and both have seen glimpses during the club's pre-season that takes them back to the summer after the 2006 season.

While the Cats missed the finals that year before going on to break a 44-year flag drought, this time around there is a sense of anger after the elimination final loss to Melbourne.

"I'm heartened that they're quite unhappy," Cook, who enters his 21st year as CEO, told the club's annual general meeting on Wednesday night.

"It reminds me a lot of the end of 2006, there was a state of readiness for change.

"It's (training) more intense than I've seen in years and that's because of the attitude of the players and the coaches to try and improve dramatically."

Scarlett, the champion full-back turned backline coach, was a major driver of the change 12 years ago and has now witnessed the same from the current crop.

"I've noticed the senior players seem a little bit more upset and shitty after the final which is good," he said.

"Our guys are highly motivated and they need to be because as we sit right now, we're a mediocre team. We're no longer a top team, we're mediocre.

"We've got a lot of work to catch the top teams, there's no magic dust or magic formula, it's hard work. We've got to toughen up a little bit."

While Patrick Dangerfield has spoken of his closing window for a maiden flag, Scarlett believes former premiership teammates Joel Selwood, Tom Hawkins and Harry Taylor are just as hungry to reach the top again.

One major shift has been the decision to extend the length of training prior to Christmas, with sessions regularly pushing three hours at Deakin University.

"Our sessions have gone longer this pre-season, more time with the players out on the track, it's the only way to improve," Scarlett said.

"Last year we were a bit capped on how the players could stay out on the park, now we've got them for pretty much as long as we want which is really good for us (coaches).

"We've seen big benefits in our game style and improvements in the players.

"We did a drill a couple of days ago (Monday), hoping it would go for 15 minutes but we couldn't get it right so it went for 30 so it's been a good shift.

In an age where every kick and kilometre is measured, head of football Simon Lloyd admitted it was a challenging conversation with physical performance boss Scott Murphy and head physio Mark Young.

"It's one of the constant battles between the conditioners, the coaches, the physios," Lloyd said.

"We just felt there's aspects of our game that we need to get right and we can't be finishing training sessions where we're not satisfied with what we're trying to do."

As the Cats head to their three-week Christmas break still stewing over 2018, one player who won't be afforded the same luxury is injury-plagued speedster Nakia Cockatoo.

Limited to just two AFL games this year following back-to-back PCL surgeries, the 22-year-old will return early after an interrupted summer to date having his tonsils removed.

"Nakia's had a couple of hiccups but he's now starting to do more, I know his volume of running has increased," Lloyd said.

"He's doing five or six kilometres this week, which is still not comparable to others that are running 12-14 (km's) but he's doing a huge amount of conditioning work underneath the grandstand (in the gym), doing a lot of cardio work.

"He won't have as long a break as the other players. The plan was for him to have a bigger break earlier on so he can do a huge amount of work over Christmas."

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs