WHAT THE RUCK? The Curious Case of the Cats
Geelong probably have one of the most interesting ruck divisions in the competition. You don’t know who’s the clear number one, but you know who’s the clear number two.
Geelong were a pretty different, more competitive side when Ratugolea was playing as back up, so there’s a pretty good chance that Esava Ratugolea, pending fitness, will be the sidekick to whoever gets the nod. Who’s the main man though?
Rhys Stanley did it for much of 2018, until his body let him down allowing Ryan Abbott to debut, and battle manfully. Zac Smith seems to be out of favour, and Mark Blicavs has been reinvented as a key defender.
The Cats aren’t afraid to play musical chairs with their ruck division.
It’s annoying on the SuperCoach front if you want to select one to partner up with a Grundy or a Gawn so you’re not spending over 15% of this year’s salary on your ruckline, but ultimately it comes down to a few things; the new ruck rules will mean that ruck clearances will become a much more common thing.
The midfield will have a greater role on defending the opposition set up allowing the ruckmen to bustle through with the ball, or to tap it down to someone, but also defending if the opposition ruckmen decides the ball is his.
There’s a good chance that these new ruck rules call for teams to use an athletic type ruckmen, and a big bustling type ruckmen – a dual ruck setup could become the status quo. So who do Geelong have to partner with Ratugolea, who is probably the athletic one in this equation?
RHYS STANLEY ($483,500)
Was the number one ruckmen down at the Cattery for 15 games, and returned an average of 89.1 – his best return ever in a year. From Round 13, he only had 1 game where he returned a score less than 90, and it was a 39 in the game he got injured in, ending his season. Stanley has never completed a full season with his highest game tally at 19. Can he stay fit?
RYAN ABBOTT ($340,700)
Made his debut when the team needed a hero. Stanley was injured, Smith was totally out of favour despite some positive performances in the VFL, and Ratugolea was down for the count with an ankle injury. Posted some good scores too with a 100 and a 110 in his first two games. Wasn’t afraid to move forward and impact the scoreboard with 3 goals in the 4 games he played. Sadly though, when the heat was on in the Elimination Final against the then reigning premiers, Richmond, he only posted a 39. So the question becomes, can he handle the heat?
ZAC SMITH ($330,600)
At 206cm, and 105kg, you’d think Smith would fit both big and bustling as well as athletic, but he’s totally out of favour. Three games in 2018, and no games returning a score over 75 points. He has never played a full season either in his eight year career. Can he get back into Chris Scott’s good books?
DARCY FORT ($117,300)
The 25 year old big man from Central Districts has been recruited for a purpose. Very rarely you see a mature age player recruited to sit on the pine all year, they’re usually there for a purpose. Fort averaged big numbers in the SANFL, and at 205cm, and at that price, he’s one to watch over pre-season.
As you can see, Geelong have no shortage of options. It’s just a matter of who. Personally I think Rhys Stanley gets first shot, but Ryan Abbott and Darcy Fort will be hot on his heels in the pre-season. Wouldn’t be surprised if Fort debuts round one as numero uno, but up against Grundy in the season opener means he’d be in for one hell of a debut.
If you were to go with one of these players, who would you choose? Tell us down below!