CATS assistant coach Matthew Scarlett says he’s proud of defender Lachie Henderson for his unlikely career resurgence.
Henderson was delisted by the Cats after playing just six games in 2019, before grabbing the last spot on the 2020 list, being redrafted with pick 35 in last year's rookie draft.
The 183-game veteran has now played 12 consecutive games, cementing himself as a pivotal part of Geelong’s water-tight defence.
Scarlett says he’s enjoyed watching Henderson prove he’s still got what it takes.
“It’s playing out into a really good story, Hendo is a really popular figure at the club and I class him as a really good mate of mine so I’m really proud of what he’s been able to do this year,” Scarlett says.
“It’s a great lesson for those young guys that aren’t quite getting a spot in the AFL side just to stay positive and wait for your turn and stay ready.”
Scarlett says it was evident from the first day of pre-season that Henderson wasn’t just taking up a spot on the list, he wanted to play.
“At the start of the year he was training the house down, playing on Hawk and doing really well,” he says.
“The way we’d structured up the team there just wasn’t a spot for him but his attitude to help out those young guys and mentor those young guys was outstanding.”
Henderson’s inclusion down back has allowed Mark Blicavs to push up the field, critical in Saturday’s semi-final win with the fleet footed ruck helping to run Brodie Grundy off his feet.
Henderson has proven to be a rock-solid anchor for the back six.
“He’s got unbelievable stats in the one-on-one contests. He’s only lost a couple all year so he’s a really good one-on-one defender,” Scarlett says.
“A lot of people talk about his intercept marking and that he reads the game well but one-on-one he’s pretty sound and pretty much playing the complete game and the moment.
“He sets us up really well, I like having him back on the last line, he sees what’s in front of him and he communicates as well as anyone on the ground. He’s a really strong leader out there for the backline.”
The crafty veteran’s confident ball use is also helping to kick-start Geelong’s attack.
“It’s good to see him backing his leg and using the footy through the corridor,” Scarlett says.
“We’re trying to hit those (corridor) targets when we see them and Hendo has certainly got the confidence in his own ability. He’s such a beautiful kick so he should have confidence in it.
“I think the other guys get a bit of confidence when they see him hitting that one through on the 45 so hopefully he can keep doing it.”