The Roar
The Roar



The gap is rapidly closing between Geelong and the rest of the competition

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Roar Pro
28th March, 2023

When a champion club like Geelong is slow to get out of the gates, it becomes straightforward to write them off quickly and not give them a fair opportunity to reach those high standards they set. First impressions are everything. 

An unexpected 0-2 start to 2023 has caused many raised eyebrows and intensified serious questions about the ageing squad and the style of footy that Chris Scott is implementing. 

Every year it feels as though this conversation is brought up regarding the Cats and undermining their ability. Those doubters have usually been kept quiet by season’s end, but doubters may have a valid argument this time. 

The reigning premiers set their blueprint around a solid defensive unit and working their way out from the back with quick ball movement, taking advantage of their talented midfield to penetrate forward and pick out pockets of space. 

Tom Stewart’s influence is obvious and undeniable. We saw for parts of the 2021 season when he was unavailable just how much Geelong struggled to keep the opposition at bay. 

Once the 30-year-old returns to action, he’ll undoubtedly make a huge impact. However, Geelong’s problems run much deeper than that. 

Too early it may be, but perhaps they’re slightly lacking an identity that the club is slowly trying to figure out and work towards. 

During the post-match press conference on Thursday night, Chris Scott admitted that there will be challenges this year, suggesting he may know something that most of us don’t. 

“We always knew it was going to be a hard year.”


“We’ve come into this year with a view that we are going to be different [to last year, and] there are going to be teething problems with a few things,” Scott said.

On the basis of the first two outings, this quote resonates and makes a lot of sense. 

No matter how good a club is run or their previous successes, it doesn’t mean that they won’t feel the pinch without their leader and captain Joel Selwood. He may be around the club to offer advice and still play his part, but despite Patrick Dangerfield taking over the responsibility, it takes time for any team to adjust to that massive change no matter how good you are. 

Ratugolea is a physically imposing figure who’s been identified as a critical piece in the defence and many are expecting big things from him. So far, he’s proven to be dominant in one-on-one battles, but room for development is obvious with his lack of defensive positional awareness.

Carlton was able to easily pick out targets inside 50, exposing Geelong’s sluggishness. Previously there’s always been an extra man coming across to assist the defence which so far hasn’t occurred. 

On top of those problems, there are two further glaring issues that the Cats need to address. 

Pressure up forward has been bitterly disappointing with the likes of Close, Miers, and Rohan needing to put in a much bigger shift off the ball. 

This historic club has often been known for their unbelievable midfield lineups, always seeming to have the right mix between youth and experience as well as undisputed talent all over.


Geelong used to be the ones bullying the middle of the ground, instead, they’re currently getting a taste of their own medicine.

Why are these factors so important to pinpoint? A lot has to do with their rivals significantly making up ground on them.

Even the most anti-Collingwood supporter would admit that the Pies have set the standard for the competition. Craig McRae’s ability to get his team playing free-flowing attacking footy with pace, intensity, and pressure all over the ground is admirable. Now, it’s them who have a clear identity as you know what you’re going to get from them each week, arguably making them the best team in the AFL albeit still early days. 

Consistency is still there for Brisbane, Richmond, and Melbourne who demonstrate the same attacking patterns of play and are able to navigate their way toward the goal with conviction and potency. You could add the Blues to the conversation as their quick brand of footy is up there with the best along with the pressure they produce like the previous teams mentioned. 

It may seem like an overreaction to directly point towards the senior players considering they won the flag last year with the oldest team in the competition, on top of Selwood hanging up the boots and lowering the average age.

Older lists shouldn’t always be perceived as a disadvantage, however. Consisting a list of veterans is vital to building any successful team, and that’s what the Cats have as they average 92.4 games worth of experience, ranking first in the competition.


Patrick Dangerfield (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Right now the Cats have 13 players on their list who are 30 years or older. At some point, you can’t help but question just how much is left in the legs of some of those players. Maybe it’s simply down to that ageing statistic that has the nine-time premiers displaying passive football with a lack of urgency and intensity.

More of an overhaul was required during the off-season as the club struggled to recruit big-name players, especially replacing Selwood.

A fair argument can be made regarding the youth brought in such as Oliver Henry and Tanner Bruhn to neutralise this ageing problem. No doubt they are bright prospects for the future, but what’s worrying is allowing their rivals to vastly strengthen by picking up players in their prime such as Tom Mitchell for the Pies and Josh Dunkley for the Lions. 

Throughout Chris Scott’s 13-year tenure, this is only the second time in which Geelong has begun the season 0-2, with 2015 resulting in no September action.

Not making the top eight is unthinkable. There’s no doubt they have the talent, depth, and experience required to make another deep run. We can’t all of a sudden forget that they’re the reigning premiers.

Sports opinion delivered daily 



Reality has it, many clubs have discovered a strong identity that has proven to be successful thus far, resulting in the chasing pack closing the gap significantly. 

What is Geelong going to do to regain control and keep its competitors at arm’s length?