Geelong’s newest addition Mitch Hardie donned the blue and white hoops for the first time on Friday night, playing an important role in the VFL Cats’ two-point win over Frankston.
Hardie spent most of the clash in the midfield, collecting 21-disposals and six-clearances while also laying eight-tackles in a promising debut game.
It’s been less than three weeks since Hardie was picked up by Geelong in the mid-season draft, but the new Cat has already settled into his new home at Kardinia Park.
"I absolutely love Geelong, it's such a fantastic place,” Hardie told geelongcats.com.au.
“I've really settled in quite well; the boys have been very welcoming and I've really enjoyed the first couple of weeks. It's been crazy, obviously it's a dream come true. The last couple of weeks leading into the mid-season draft, you never know really what's going to happen.
"The Cats were fantastic leading into it, ultimately absolutely stoked to be picked up by them and come into such a fantastic organisation.
" I'm absolutely loving my time here already.”
Hardie spent the first half of the 2023 season dominating in the SANFL, averaging 26-disposals and six-clearances per game for Woodville-West Torrens.
The dominant stretch of play this year landed Hardie on Geelong’s radar, with the Cats using the sixth pick in the AFL’s mid-season draft the explosive midfielder.
Hardie’s first game with the Cats saw him line-up in the middle alongside some of Geelong’s AFL-experienced players, with Rhys Stanley returning from injury and Mitch Knevitt back after his AFL stint.
The new draftee said playing with those experienced players will be great for his development in the AFL system.
"You can absolutely tell that those boys are first class, I've learned a lot from them over the past couple of weeks,” Hardie said.
“It was great to get out there and run around with all of them tonight, and the VFL-listed boys, there is some great talent in that list as well.
"It was a great experience and I'm looking forward to building with the team over the next few weeks.”
After a whirlwind start to his AFL career, Hardie will now look to build into the Cats program and try to earn himself a debut in the Cats AFL side.
Hardie said his main goal is to gain as much knowledge as he possibly can, leaning on the experienced heads at Geelong to progress his career.
"For me it's just learning off the boys that I'm playing around, learning off those boys that have been here for a long period of time and taking it all in.
"There's no time limit on whether I play AFL or when I play, it's just learning and indulging in what this is here at the Cattery and just enjoying my time.”