Don’t write off the Cats in 2016

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 21: Corey Enright of the Cats is congratulated by team mates after kicking a goal during the round five AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the Hawthorn Hawks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 21, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

It seems, for many, Geelong’s reign as a force is over, consigned to history. As Patrick Dangerfield edges closer and closer to a home at Kardinia Park, teams of football fans on social media keep issuing barbs that he will not see a premiership at Geelong for at least five years. One can’t help but think these predictions are premature, born out of hope that the cats will experience a lengthy spell in the lower reaches of the ladder.

It’s interesting analysis, given that Geelong won 11 games this season despite fielding a list in transition. Rather than falling further down the ladder, it’s conceivable that Geelong could be ready to begin climbing once again.

Consider the midfield and their grades next year (presuming, of course, Dangerfield arrives at the cattery).

Joel Selwood (A); Dangerfield (A); Motlop (B+); Duncan (B+); Caddy (B); Guthrie (B).

Blicavs and Stanley will share the ruck duties, and both players have proven that they can perform. Factor in also the fact that Bartel can still make cameos in the midfield, and it’s apparent that the Cats’ midfield will be far from easybeats during 2016.

What about the forward line?

Hawkins (B+); Clarke (B); Vardy (B+); Menzel (B); Bartel (B+); Walker (C).

It is likely that Walker might go in a trade, possibly to Carlton in exchange for Henderson. The Cats will have a team of power forwards next year, and if Vardy and Clarke can remain on the park they will present headaches for opposition defenders. It’s true that Hawkins experienced a difficult and often frustrating season in 2015, but too often he was forced to shoulder the load due to injuries. He is an A grade forward on his given day, and with more support around him he could easily notch up 70+ goals. If Daniel Menzel has a strong pre-season, then that B rating will fast be moving north.

Defenders? (Let’s assume Henderson comes across).

Enright (A); Taylor (A); Lonergan (A); Mackie (B); Henderson (B+); Kolodjashnij (C+); Bews (C+)

Kolodjashnij and Bews showed a bit in 2015, but obviously they’re not there yet. Enright is still playing brilliant floating football on the half-back line, while the addition of Henderson will provide valuable support for proven campaigners Taylor, Lonergan and Mackie.

Also, 2016 will see further development to promising players like Josh Cowan, Nakia Cockatoo, Cory Gregson, and Jackson Thurlow. There is also the possibility of securing the services of Scott Selwood, to which not many Cats fans will complain.

It might be wishful thinking for Cats fans, but a quick look at the likely 2016 list reveals that there is still the right mix of A grade players with up and coming potential. It would be foolish to talk it up as a premiership list, but it is fair to argue that finals in 2016 is a likely possibility, with further success down the track.

The Geelong Football Club have made fools of naysayers in the past. It could just be that they will do so once again.

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