AFL pacesetters Geelong have lauded the influence of skipper Joel Selwood after flexing their muscles with a 23-point Easter Monday win over Hawthorn.
Selwood was instrumental in a pulsating 17.11 (113) to 13.12 (90) victory at the MCG that lifted the Cats to the top of the ladder after five rounds.
Pushed out of the Cats’ preferred centre-square combination and onto a wing in a bid to improve the side’s on-ball depth, Selwood was summoned in the third quarter after Brandon Parfitt was ruled out with a quadricep strain.
The 30-year-old responded superbly, gathering 12 of his 32 disposals and five of his eight clearances for the quarter as Geelong kicked away to a five-goal lead at three-quarter time.
“We’ve been trying to build that depth for a long time but we always reserve our right in the box to get Selwood back in the middle,” coach Chris Scott said.
“We lost a player, good opposition, big occasion – ‘Joel, we’ll throw you on the ball, we know you won’t let us down’. He certainly won’t shy away from that.
“I thought he was great all over the ground in different roles.”
Selwood was ably supported by rising star Tim Kelly (29 disposals, two goals) and Patrick Dangerfield (28 and two), while Gary Rohan (four goals), Gary Ablett (three) and Tom Hawkins (three) proved unstoppable up forward.
The ability of Kelly, Dangerfield and Ablett to switch between midfield and forward roles continues to provide a major headache for opposition coaches.
Scott said the Cats wouldn’t get ahead of themselves after a round in which West Coast, GWS and Melbourne all fell to heavy upset losses.
“The draw clearly has a role to play in the ladder in the early stages,” Scott said.
“I think we’re similar to most teams in the competition – we’re just trying to work out where everyone sits. And I haven’t got a great answer for that.
“I think the round of footy was pretty instructive in that respect.”
Scott revealed Hawkins had been in doubt to face Hawthorn after his young daughter fell ill during the week, disrupting his training schedule.
The Cats will weigh up recalling defender Zach Tuohy to face the Eagles in Geelong next Sunday and expect to have ruck-forward Esava Ratugolea (cork) available.