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Five JLT Series Takeaways

A potential move to the wing is on the cards for Joel Selwood. - Geelong Cats
A potential move to the wing is on the cards for Joel Selwood.

It felt like it was over as quick as a flash but here were the things that got us most excited in the JLT series: 

The Youth of the Cat Nation

Over the past eight seasons Chris Scott and the Cats recruiting team have set about rejuvenating and revitalising the Cats list. In fact, only five players remain on the Cats list from Scott’s first season as coach. Even more remarkably the list changeover has happened with only one pick in the top 10 of any draft since then. Against both the Eagles and Bombers in JLT action the Cats got to see some of the younger talent drafted over the past couple of seasons show their wares. Jordan Clark, Charlie Constable, Gryan Miers, Zach Guthrie, Esava Ratugolea and Brandan Parfitt all showed during the Cats duo of JLT games that they’ll be pushing as hard as anyone to claim a round one spot against Collingwood. Not one of these six Cats has turned 21 years of age. Add in Mark O’Connor, Quinton Narkle, Tom Atkins, Tim Kelly and Jake Kolodjashnij who also contributed to the Cats JLT campaign and who are all under 25 years of age, and potentially half the Cats side will be under that mark. Lachie Fogarty and Nakia Cockatoo the Cats top picks from the 2017 and 2014 drafts who are both also under 23 years old and the Cats have a flood of young talent bashing down the door.

You can teach an older Cat more tricks

The new rules have meant new roles and one that arose numerous times has been the Cats skipper Joel Selwood moving to the wing. As astutely pointed out by AFL Media journalist Mitch Cleary this could be a symptom of the AFL removing runners from the majority of the play. With Selwood within ear shot of the Cats bench, he is able to pass messages and tactics on to his side direct from the Cats coaching staff without needing to head off the ground. The wing role has also seen Selwood rack up 15 possessions against the Eagles in 50% game time followed by 38 possessions against the Bombers in 80% game time. Without the crash and bash of centre stoppages, it also may prolong Selwood’s career far into the future. 

Home is where the heart is

The people of Geelong have known for a long time there is something special about the City by The Bay and over the past few years we’ve seen players including Patrick Dangerfield and Lachie Henderson make the move back closer to their birthplace. At the end of 2018, Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus returned via trade and free agency respectively whilst Darcy Fort returned via the draft from South Australia. Rohan and Dahlhaus have shown why the Cats were keen to get them back to GMHBA Stadium and Fort has also shown why the Cats used a draft pick to draft the mature age ruckman. Both Rohan and Dahlhaus have spoken about the benefits of returning closer to family and friends and Cats fans will be keen to see the residual effect on the footy field.  

Options aplenty

The most pleasing aspect of the Cats getting through the JLT series has also been the ability to pick from nearly the whole list in the process. Jed Bews, Zach Tuohy, Scott Selwood, Cockatoo and Fogarty would have all been ideally in both games, but the Cats have been able to adequately cover them whilst also unearthing some emerging talent ready to stake their claim on a regular 22 spot. Matthew Scarlett has spoken of the challenges he will have picking seven players in the backline but all assistant coaches will their own headaches to deal with.

Bombers a sign of things to come?

Thursday night was the first time since 1993 that an Essendon side has come down the highway to tackle the Cats. Over 9000 fans came along to watch the clash despite it being on a Thursday night prior to a Victorian long weekend. A huge crowd turned out for the Cats clash with Richmond in 2017 and last season saw the highest average crowd at GMHBA Stadium since 1963. In 2019, two of the last three premiership sides will be down to visit (Western Bulldogs & West Coast Eagles), last year’s preliminary finalist Melbourne, 2017 grand finalist Adelaide and perennial finalists Sydney are just some of the teams heading down to the Cattery. Perhaps there’s never been a better time to buy a reserved seat at GMHBA Stadium?

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