AFLW head coach Paul Hood admits that he was shocked when he heard that Geelong's season was over.
Last Wednesday the AFL announced that the AFLW finals series was to be brought forward with the top four teams of both conferences to play for the premiership.
For Geelong, who sat in fifth position in Conference A, this meant that the Cats campaign had come to an abrupt finish.
“I was pretty shocked,” said Hood.
“Obviously there had been some talk about the end of the season maybe needing to look different, but, in the moment, it was really hard news to process.
At the time of the decision, a finals appearance by the Cats was a slim possibility.
Hood had planned to use the final two rounds of the home and away season to continue his teams’ development.
“I think mathematically we needed a lot of things to go right for us to have qualified for the finals from where we were, from fifth, remembering that it was only three teams that were going through originally.
“The focus was for our players to get as much as they could out of those last two games of the season.
“As it had been all year the focus was on the next game and the next opponent we were facing and trying to do the very best we could at developing our game every time we went out to play.”
In his second season at the helm, Hood had been pleased with the signs of development his squad had shown.
The lowest scoring team in the competition in 2019 averaging 22 points per game, Geelong had proved much more efficient in 2020 scoring an average of 35.
Hood looked beyond the Cats’ two wins against expansion clubs, Richmond and Gold Coast, to praise his side’s efforts against the more experienced teams in the competition.
“Obviously the Richmond and Gold Coast games where we had the wins we attacked and defended very well, but we also had some periods of games against some really good teams where we were very, very competitive.
“To improve our ability to move the ball and score I thought was a huge plus and just the overall quality of each of the games we were in, perhaps the North Melbourne game withstanding, but for each of the others, the quality of the football was much improved I think on 2019 and showed that our group’s on a really good trajectory.”
Like many connected to women’s football, Hood is uncertain of what will take place for his AFLW players with the VFLW season postponed until May 31.
“There’s too many unknowns at the moment.
“Our end of season meetings will take place next week, we will talk to each player one-on-one about the best fitness program in the current situation for them and then more about individual football development as the next football season comes closer.”
"But most importantly we will continue to connect with each other remotely and do what we need to do to keep each other healthy, support our families and do the right thing by the community in this important time.”