K rock Football

Break benefits Cats

Maddy Keryk in action during Geelong’s AFLW practice match against Melbourne earlier this month. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

GEELONG defender Maddy Keryk believes the COVID-enforced shutdown of football has benefited both players and coaches at GMHBA Stadium.

The Cats had their 2020 AFLW season brought to a premature halt due to the pandemic, with the VFLW competition a subsequent victim.

For some of Geelong’s playing group, it was more than six months between visits to the club.

“I feel, having that time away from football, the players and the coaches have come back with a renewed focus and clarity on how they want to do things,” Keryk said.

“You get that sense having a break from football has renewed everyone’s passion for the game.

“And everyone’s extra excited and energised to give it everything they’ve got, which has translated to a higher intensity at training, and, hopefully, it impacts on the outcome on the field.”

One of Geelong’s success stories from the shortened 2020 AFLW season, Cats fans can expect more of the same from Keryk as we head into a new year.

The shift to the backline of the former Blue was a masterstroke from Paul Hood and his coaching staff, with the 25-year-old former finishing equal 6th in Geelong’s best-and-fairest.

“Moving down back was a good move for me,” Keryk said. “I certainly enjoyed playing down there, and I’ll play down there this year.

“For me, I’ll keep working on my defensive craft.”

One of only a handful of Cats to play all 14 games since entering the competition in 2019, Keryk’s growing standing amongst her peers was recognised with her elevation to this year’s leadership group.

“I’ve come a fair way since being delisted by Carlton three years ago,” she said. “Getting an opportunity to play with Geelong, I’ve always been really grateful to them for giving me that opportunity.

“I’ve always felt very embraced by the club, so to have the opportunity to be a part of the leadership group, I value that very highly.

“And to be voted in by your peers is also something I hold in high regard.

“It’s really special to have that kind of opportunity to influence and get the best out of the group.”

 

Geelong opens its season on Sunday against North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium.

The Roos handed the Cats a 46-point hiding in what proved to be the last home-and-away round of the 2020 season, and Keryk says the first-up meeting with the previous year’s preliminary finalists will be a chance to gauge their improvement.

“We’ve certainly noticed improvement within the group in training,” she said.

“But you don’t really know how far you’ve come until you come up against another team for points.

“It will be a really good test first up, and I’m really excited to see how we go.

“Especially some of the younger girls, who have had massive improvement over the summer.”

Twitter: @tom_king79