Geelong has sought out Ross Lyon for advice but the former St Kilda and Fremantle coach will not be joining the Cats in an AFL role.
The Geelong Cats finished third on the ladder with 16 wins, and six losses in the home-and-away season in 2021. They lost in the preliminary finals.
The Power were the other team knocked out of the prelims. They finished second at the end of the home-and-away season. Therefore, for the purpose of this exercise, the Cats are fourth.
The Cats only had two players that played all 25 games: Tom Hawkins and Jed Bews.
Geelong won seven out of nine games without Patrick Dangerfield and only won ten out of 15 games with him in the team, as he was subbed out in one of the 16 games. He averaged the most clangers and turnovers of any Cats player.
Along with that, Joel Selwood averaged the second most clangers of any Cats player. They also lost five of 15 games that Jeremy Cameron featured in.
All three of the above players are highly regarded, but they weren’t worthy of being chosen for this article.
They only had four debutants, which wasn’t enough for a team that may need to consider rebuilding.
To be eligible for selection, it’s essential that each player selected featured in at least five games in season 2021. Here are the five players and an honourable mention selected, which the Cats could least afford to lose based on their performances in 2021.
Honourable mention: Isaac Smith
Smith featured in 24 of 25 games. In the game that he didn’t play in due to being managed, the Cats lost to the Giants, which was in Round 21. He averaged the second most metres gained of any Cats player with an average of 480.58 metres gained per game.
He only had less than 20 disposals on two occasions. He averaged 5.04 score involvements per game, which is a respectable average.
5. Jack Henry
Henry featured in every game that the Cats played in season 2021, apart from their opening game of the season, which they lost to the Crows. He had the highest disposal efficiency percentage on average of any Cats player and averaged the second most contested marks of any Cats player. Along with that, he averaged the second most intercepts of any Cats player.
4. Mitch Duncan
Duncan only featured in 13 games in season 2021. He was subbed out of two games, which impacted his average stats immensely. In all of the other 11 games, he had at least 20 disposals and at least 30 disposals in four out of 11 matches. He was in the top three for score involvements of any Cats player on average and top two for uncontested possessions of any Cats player on average.
3. Cameron Guthrie
Guthrie featured in 23 of 25 games in season 2021. He averaged the most disposals of any Cats player with an average of exactly 29 disposals per game. In ten out of 23 games, he had 30 disposals or more. Along with that, he averaged the third most contested possessions of any Cats player and averaged the third most tackles of any Cats player. He was also versatile as he was capable of playing either in the midfield or on the wing.
2. Tom Hawkins
Hawkins kicked the most goals of any player in the competition, when including finals, with 62 goals for season 2021. He averaged the most score involvements of any Cats player, with an average of 7.32 score involvements per game. He was rewarded for his consistency by being selected at centre half forward in the AFL All Australian team for 2021.
1. Tom Stewart
Stewart featured in 20 of 25 games, as he unfortunately suffered an injury that kept him out of the Cats’ last five games of season 2021. He was rewarded for his consistent season by being named in the back pocket of the AFL All Australian starting 18.
He averaged the second highest disposal efficiency percentage of any Cats player, and averaged the most metres gained of any Cat on average. Last but not least, he won the best and fairest, despite missing five games!