It’s probably in the way he plays. 

Tom Atkins is hard, uncompromising, gritty and if you watch him closely, he walks away from every contest like an action hero with a rising fireball behind him. 

Scratch, fight. Go again.  

Or maybe it’s in his pathway to the AFL, a story well told, and one that can be traced back to the Cats’ VFL development program back in 2014. 

Determined, persistent, relentless. 

The rest, as they say, is history. 

But it’s because of all of these things that it’s often overlooked how good of a footballer Atkins is, something that his second place finish in Thursday night’s ‘Carji’ Greeves Medal should go some way to correcting.  

Geelong coach Chris Scott who would know better than most how much Atkins brings to his Cats beyond the grunt work, and he talked about it on the eve of the 28-year-old's 100th game earlier this season. 

“He’s a talent too, he’s not just a grunt player, he’s got great awareness, he’s a really good decision maker, he’s a good kick,” Scott said back in July.

“Sometimes you can denigrate how good these guys actually are by saying they’ve come from a long way back and they’ve worked really hard to get here.

“If you forget his background just for a second and look at him on what he’s delivering right at the moment, he’s in, in my opinion, the elite bracket in his role within the AFL.”


Atkins posted career highs in disposals (19.4), and clearances (5), where he rated as Above Average, and tackles (7.6), where he was rated as Elite, finishing third in the AFL for total tackles (176).

He polled in all but six games, and picked up the maximum ten votes for his Round 24 performance against the Western Bulldogs, as well as three nine vote games against North Melbourne (Round 17), Essendon (Round 18), and Collingwood (Round 22)


Geelong Assistant Coach Nigel Lappin said Atkins is everything you’d want in a player. 

“Tom embodies the values of the team as well as anyone who has come before him, he said.

“He is a ruthless competitor, seeks constant improvement, has great humility, a total pro who always puts the team interests first. 

“He is admired and respected by all who work at and support the club.”