Geelong raring to take on West Coast’s ruck combination “head-on”

GEELONG will be able to take West Coast’s dominant ruck combination “head-on” for the first time this Saturday night at Simonds Stadium.

Geelong ruckman Hamish McIntosh has returned to football in good shape. Picture: Getty Source: Getty Images

In recent years the Cats ruck stocks have been ravaged by injury but the form of Hamish McIntosh and Dawson Simpson in the opening three rounds has given Cats coach Chris Scott a chance to go on the attack against the undefeated Eagles.

Veteran Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui are the best in the business and new coach Adam Simpson has also been playing another ruck/forward option in Callum Sinclair.

Last year when the team’s met in Round 21, the Cats used undersized swingman Mark Blicavs and youngster Nathan Vardy against Cox.

“It probably means we can take them on head-on, more than we have in the past,” Scott said. “When you take on two, or three really good ruckmen in West Coast’s case, and you don’t really have a genuine ruckman yourself you spend a lot of time trying to mitigate the damage. While we have a healthy respect for their guys, we have also got a lot of faith in our big guys as well. We think we can at least break even in a lot of those contests so that gives you a better chance to set up the way you would like at ground level.”

The 203cm McIntosh has been a revelation after missing all of last year while Simpson, who stands at 209cm and 109kg, also missed the second half of last season.

There has been a significant change in the Cats effectiveness in the middle of the ground this year and they’ve improved their ranking for hit-outs to advantage from 16th in the competition last year to eighth after three rounds.

In overall hit-outs they’re ranked fifth compared to 16th at the end of last season while in clearances the Cats have improved five spots to be 12th.

Scott said his midfield division were enjoying being able to have a more offensive mindset at centre bounces this year.

“They love it,” he said. “All midfielders in the competition would say a dominant ruckman helps, not only in getting the ball but being more proactive in the way you setup as opposed to having to react to the way the opposition is setting up because you know they’re going to get first hand to the ball. We have been pretty open with regard to our plan with the ruckmen. We don’t envisage playing two or three ruckmen every week but right at the moment that is working for us and it was always going to be a work in progress.”

Blicavs has been used successfully as the sub and he came on in the second half against Collingwood to replace tall forward Mitch Brown.

Scott said veteran defender Corey Enright, who made an appearance on the training track yesterday, was a chance to return from an ankle injury which saw him miss Saturday night’s win over the Magpies.

“He is obviously better than he was on the weekend and he was quite close to playing so that’s a good sign,” he said. “Our medicos have been pretty clear that this is the type of injury that can get pretty good pretty quickly but the last 10 per cent can take a long time. So I hesitate to be too emphatic about his position.”

Taylor Hunt is available after serving a one-match suspension but he is no guarantee to come straight back with Scott impressed with the defensive job of his replacement Jackson Sheringham.

Source: Scott Gullan – Herald Sun