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Atkins appointed VFL captain

Tom Atkins will lead the VFL Cats in 2018 - Geelong Cats
Tom Atkins will lead the VFL Cats in 2018

Geelong’s VFL side will have a sole captain for the first time since 2014 with Tom Atkins announced as skipper for the 2018 season. 

Atkins will spearhead a five-man leadership group with James Tsitas, Ben Reid and new Cats Jordan Keras and Luke Kiel supporting him.

Atkins had been part of the VFL Cats’ leadership groups in 2016 and 2017 but was surprised when given the top job for the upcoming season. 

“It is a bit surprising but I’m very honoured,” he said. 

“I’m very lucky to be seen in that light by the coaches and the players to take on the big responsibility.”

The 22-year-old has been on the VFL Cats’ list since 2014 and is one of the most respected players at the club.

The hard-nosed midfielder had a breakout season in 2016, claiming the Geelong VFL Best & Fairest award and earning VFL Team of the Year honours.

Numerous injuries halted Atkins’ progress in 2017 as he managed only 10 matches but still found himself amongst the best players on eight occasions.

The highlight of his 2017 season was Atkins’ Round 18 performance against Collingwood where he racked up 25 disposals, two goals and an incredible 23 tackles. 

Despite the personal feats, the midfielder was disappointed that his side missed the finals and hopes for a better return in 2018.

“It was a bit disappointing how we ended it, we would have liked to sneak into finals,” Atkins said.

“We look pretty good this year, we have added a few more mature bigger bodies in the midfield that can help us out.”

Two of the Cats’ new midfield recruits in Keras and Kiel will feature in the leadership group and should bring a wealth of experience after leadership roles at their former clubs.

Keras was vice-captain of NEAFL club Southport last season whilst Kiel led the North Ballarat Roosters as co-captain.

“(Keras and Kiel) come from a background of playing high level footy and have just got great training habits and a great attitude which rubs off on the young players in the group and myself,” Atkins said.

“They will be great not just for leadership on the ground but for leadership off the field as well.” 

Rounding out the leadership group is 2017 Best & Fairest Tsitas and runner-up Reid, who both proved to be great on-field leaders last season. 

“The boys (in the leadership group) are great, it could have been any one of us as captain,” Atkins said.

“Having that bigger spread of leaders is going to help this year when we need someone to step into place if I’m not playing.”

Atkins will also be aided by the AFL players that are likely to filter through the VFL side throughout the year.

“They have some great leaders but due to their AFL responsibilities they can’t be in (the leadership group) but they will help a lot as older guys who have played a lot of AFL footy,” Atkins said.

“Myself and the other leaders are pretty young so it is nice to have the mature heads that can come back when they have to play with us and help out.”

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