ASSISTANT Coach Nigel Lappin has joined this week's Official Geelong podcast 'To the Final Bell' and lifted the lid on how the exciting first year Cats are tracking in their debut seasons.

Lappin plays an integral role within Geelong's first-to-fourth-year Cameron Ling Player Development Academy, and is excited by what his seen of this year's crop.


Dynamic rookie Ollie Dempsey has kicked bags of four and three goals already in his young career and has caught Lappin's eye.

"He’s just an excitement machine, he’s got a really good vertical leap," Lappin says.

"He’s turned himself into a hybrid forward, one of those guys who can play reasonably tall if you need him to but he’s one of our best 2km time triallists."

Dempsey was plucked from nowhere to join the Cats, selected off the back of games for Carey Grammar in Melbourne.

"He comes from a basketball background and hasn’t played a heap of representative footy. He played a bit of junior footy," Lappin says.

"He was quite small and played as a point guard as a basketballer and I think he grew over 20cm over one season."

Grovedale duo Mitch Knevitt and Cooper Whyte have also featured at VFL level already and looked the part as the Cats restock their experienced midfield.

"Obviously we’ve got a midfield that are probably closer to the end of their career than the start and those two boys have been filling the void really well at VFL level," Lappin says.

"They’re both emerging midfielders, they're good on the inside and can really run on the outside."

Prized ruckman Toby Conway and inside bulls James Willis and Flynn Kroeger are yet to see senior action as the club medical and conditioning team ensures their bodies are ready to handle the rigours of top-level football.

The 205cm Conway had track-watchers impressed before he injured his hip on the eve of the season.

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"He had an amazing pre-season here and was going really well but unfortunately had a few setbacks with just his body," Lappin says.

"He’s starting to get himself back and is maybe two weeks away from playing. We’re really looking forward to seeing him."

The ruckman's mature body is one reason why Lappin and the Cats are keen to see what he can produce.

"He’s a big man, strong in the contest already for an 18-year-old," Lappin says.

"He’s got a really smart footy brain and he’s got a thirst for knowledge."

Members of the Cameron Ling Player Development Academy.

James Willis is also nearing a return after being introduced into football drills in the past week.

"James is a really powerful inside mid, still a good runner but powerful. He’s an absolute bull, like he’s built," Lappin says.

"His nickname is Bruce Willis and it’s not just because of his last name, he loves the tough stuff. Picture Die Hard, that will be Brucey one day."

Flynn Kroger has been given a green light to commence full training after battling a troublesome hip all pre-season.

"He’s a beautiful kick and sort of flew under the radar a little bit in the draft because he didn’t play a lot of footy in his top age year," Lappin says.

"He looks really exciting as a tough inside mid that gets to the outside well and uses it really well."

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