Joel Selwood is the perfect leader for the new breed of Cats.
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Geelong's era of premiership success appears over but here are six reasons why the Cats are far from a spent force...
1. They still have their share of stars
No side with Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood, Paul Chapman, Steve Johnson, Joel Corey, Corey Enright, James Kelly and Tom Hawkins is going to sink lower than mid-table, regardless of the generational change that is going on at the club. And that doesn't take into account the contributions that premiership players Travis Varcoe, Harry Taylor, Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan will continue to make in 2013 and beyond. Despite the departure of so many key players, Geelong still have too much talent to slide a long way down the ladder.
2. Chris Scott
In the eldest of the Scott twins, the Cats already have a premiership coach despite his relative inexperience. Naysayers will argue that he only needed to tweak the game plan in the first season to snare a flag but it was his ability to apply the right changes - more kicking, less handball - and get the players to embrace those changes that made the difference. Developing a new generation of stars is Scott's next challenge but having proven himself on so many levels already, it takes a brave man to suggest he's not up to the challenge.
3. Promising youngsters
Speaking of the next generation, the Cats already have several players who will form the core of the club's post-triple premiership squad. At 24, Hawkins is just entering the prime of his career as a key forward while the injured Daniel Menzel will be 21 and a proven big-game player when he returns next year. Add talented ruck-forward Nathan Vardy, nippy half-forward Allen Christensen, exciting utility Billie Smedts and classy first-year midfielder George Horlin-Smith - who finished third in the VFL's Liston Trophy as a 19-year-old - and the future looks good.
When Geelong leaders Tom Harley, Cameron Ling, Matthew Scarlett and Brad Ottens departed the club, they left behind not only three premiership cups but three flags that were built on a rock-solid culture of trust and honesty. From the wreckage of the disappointing 2006 season, the Cats led by Harley and Ling forged a new team-first ethos that was the foundation for six years of stunning success. Like the Sydney Swans before them, those senior players created an enduring culture at Kardinia Park that will give the club every chance of maximising its talent. In Selwood, they have the perfect leader for the new breed of Cats.
5. Skilled Stadium
Geelong's redeveloped home ground is the envy of all their rivals, for two separate reasons. Firstly, it gives the Cats a uniquely-shaped home ground that they share with no other club, and a competitive advantage over the nine other Melbourne clubs. Secondly, the demand for tickets at Geelong home games is such that the Cats can sell almost every seat at a premium price. West Coast and Adelaide have enjoyed similar situations in the past but those two clubs' profits from the gate are partly committed to their state football associations. Geelong don't have to make any such compromise, allowing them to funnel as much money as they need into a state of the art football department and enough coaches to compete with the best. Money is a huge part of talent development and the Cats can afford to spare no expense.
6. Stephen Wells
The veteran talent spotter is rightly regarded as one of the best in the business, having built the Cats' premiership squads without access to a draft pick higher than No.7 (Joel Selwood). Granted, Wells did have the benefit of an unprecedented crop of father-son stars (Gary Ablett, Matthew Scarlett, Tom Hawkins) to compensate but his record with a modest range of draft picks still stacks up against any recruiter. His 1999 and 2001 drafts remain the stuff of legend, with the Cats' premiership core of Corey, Ling, Chapman, Enright, Bartel, Kelly, Johnson and Ablett arriving in the space of three years. He has since topped up with Selwood, Varcoe, Taylor, Menzel, Christensen and Vardy with nary a wasted pick. As long as Wells remains in charge of Geelong's recruiting network, fans can rest assured the club won't lack for talented young players.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of BigPond Sport.
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