IT’S very easy to see the Cats dropping away this year after three consecutive grand finals.
For some of these players, fatherhood takes a toll and the extra break over pre-season certainly refreshes them but puts them behind the pecking order physically.
Perhaps the best things to come from the pre-season have been the arrival of old and new in James Podsiadly and Mitch Duncan.
Podsiadly is ready to take his third AFL chance with both hands and he could potentially be a 50-plus goalkicker.
Duncan has been mentored well by Joel Selwood. Expect Duncan to get some game time in the midfield this season.
On-field: Marcus Drum (exchange period), Daniel Menzel, Mitch Duncan, Allen Christensen, Nathan Vardy, Josh Cowan, Jeremy Laidler (NAB AFL Draft), Jack Weston, Ben C. Johnson, James Podsiadly, Jesse Stringer (NAB AFL Rookie Draft)
Off-field: Blake Caracella (assistant coach)
B: Darren Milburn, Matthew Scarlett, Corey Enright
HB: Josh Hunt, Harry Taylor, Andrew Mackie
C: Joel Corey, Cameron Ling, Travis Varcoe
HF: Jimmy Bartel, Cameron Mooney, Paul Chapman
F: Steve Johnson, Tom Hawkins, Shannon Byrnes
Foll: Brad Ottens, Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood
I/C: James Kelly, David Wojcinski, Max Rooke, Mark Blake
Our crystal ball: You wouldn’t need to tweak too much to this champion Geelong team. But a lack of fitness in the early part of the season could play a big part in their start. They finally won their first pre-season match over the weekend but they will start behind the eight ball as far as other clubs’ pre-seasons go. We expect Geelong to drop off that 5 per cent which will allow other teams’ such as Western Bulldogs and St Kilda, who are striving for the crown to take it. Prediction: 3rd