Having placed plenty of attention to extend their ‘win now’ window, the Cats were unable to come away with any silverware in 2021, falling out of the premiership race in ugly fashion to eventual flag winners Melbourne to the tune of 83 points.
The oldest list in the league by some margin, the Cats heavily relied on veteran stars and stalwarts to lead their charge for their first premiership in a decade, with their pursuit coming to no avail despite a strong home and away season.
There were plenty of positives to take away from the Cats’ campaign as they inch toward the 2022 season, with the attacking tandem of Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron set to buoy Geelong’s premiership hopes should they remain on the park and impactful in front of goal.
In: Jonathon Ceglar, Tyson Stengle, Toby Conway, Mitch Knevitt, James Willis, Flynn Kroeger, Cooper Whyte, Ollie Dempsey
Out: Josh Jenkins, Ben Jarvis, Cam Taheny, Lachie Henderson, Stefan Okunbor, Nathan Kreuger, Oscar Brownless, Darcy Fort, Jordan Clark, Charlie Constable
Disposals - 2nd
Clearances - 3rd
Disposal Efficiency - 2nd
Centre Clearances - 14th
Intercepts - 18th
Rebound 50s - 18th
Star player: Tom Stewart
Last season saw Geelong’s reliance on their star defender as evident as ever, with Stewart’s absence throughout the back-end of the 2021 campaign opening up a major void in Chris Scott’s rearguard.
The Cats were unable to secure the minor premiership and go the distance in the post-season, with their strengths in defence soon becoming a deficiency as Stewart’s role was left gaping by lesser backmen.
The three-time All-Australian defender will be hoping any signs of a foot injury are behind him as he holds down a key role in Geelong’s spine, with Stewart seemingly Geelong’s most valued asset.
One to watch: Sam de Koning
Having cut his teeth in the reserves across the past two seasons, former first-round selection Sam De Koning is set to make his name known among AFL circles.
The 204cm youngster is set to be unleashed across Geelong’s backline this year, with De Koning possessing a desirable ability to lock down threatening opponents and offer plenty of fight in aerial contests.
With Geelong to soon place some priority toward the development of their youth, De Koning could be the pick of the bunch to front the Cats’ next era of football.
Under pressure: Gary Rohan
Another lacklustre finals campaign saw Rohan under the microscope for the wrong reasons at the end of last year, with the veteran sharpshooter going goalless in Geelong’s two finals losses.
The Cats have begun to shape their list for the season ahead with the addition of former Crows and Tigers livewire Tyson Stengle, who will firm to replace one of Geelong’s starting forwards from yesteryear.
While Rohan held a role among Geelong’s attacking third throughout last year, the 30-year-old is no certainty to feature in Chris Scott’s best 22, and will be feeling the pressure to prove his worth in 2022.
The Cats have staked their claim as a renowned finals threat across the past several seasons and 2022 looks to be no different.
Once again entering the new season with an ageing list, both fitness and form are sure to challenge Chris Scott’s planning for the year ahead, with Geelong’s senior coach also set to feeling the heat as he steps into 2022 out of contract.
Should the Cats be able to keep their stars on the field for a majority of the season, they’ll once again go deep into September as a viable flag threat. They will need to keep one eye on the future however, so expect a few new faces to be blooded into Scott’s side throughout the year.
Five matches to watch
Round 1 vs. Essendon, MCG, Saturday March 19
Round 4 vs. Brisbane, GMHBA Stadium, Friday April 8
Round 5 vs. Hawthorn, MCG, Monday April 18
Round 14 vs. Richmond, MCG, TBC
Round 16 vs. Melbourne, GMHBA Stadium, TBC
All time games
- Joel Selwood - 334
- Corey Enright - 332
- Ian Nankervis - 325
- Jimmy Bartel - 305
- Tom Hawkins - 302
All time goals
- Gary Ablett - 1021
- Doug Wade - 834
- Tom Hawkins - 665
- Steve Johnson - 452
- Bill Brownless - 441
MOST DISPOSALS: Cameron Guthrie - 667
MOST TACKLES: Brandan Parfitt - 128
MOST CLEARANCES: Joel Selwood - 127
MOST MARKS: Tom Stewart - 178
MOST GOALS: Tom Hawkins - 62