K rock Football

Can young guns step up again?

Gryan Miers celebrates a goal in Geelong’s preliminary final loss to Richmond. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

FURTHER improvement in young forwards Gryan Miers, Esava Ratugolea and Tom Atkins will be critical to Geelong remaining a premiership contender according to assistant coach Corey Enright.

All three were crucial as the Cats reached a third preliminary final in four seasons.

After failing to play a senior match in his first season on the Geelong list, Miers was one of only four Cats feature in all 25 games, finishing third on the club’s goalkicking list with 28 majors.

Ratugolea bounced back from a nasty lower leg injury suffered in mid-2018 to play 20 games.

While rookie draft selection Atkins managed 23 appearances and was second only to Luke Dahlhaus for tackles laid by a Cat in 2019.

“I think it’s important for them to continue to look to improve,” Enright said.

“They have a year under their belt, they performed at a great level consistently throughout the year, so we’re just looking for that continued improvement with them.

“Ratugolea’s another one in that boat. He showed snippets of what he can do and what he can produce.

“For him, it’s just about continuing to learn the game and be consistent in the game and what he does really well.”

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With the addition of Dahlhaus and former Sydney livewire Gary Rohan ahead of last season, Geelong owned the second-best offence in the league in the home-and-away season.

However, it’s set to take on a different look with the arrival of Josh Jenkins from Adelaide, giving the Cats the option of a three-pronged attack featuring the ex-Crow, Ratugolea and veteran forward Tom Hawkins.

“With Josh coming in, it gives us another dimension down there,” Enright said.

“To be fair, I’ve watched him from afar and didn’t know too much about how he played the game.

“Early signs are really good with Josh. He understands football really well; he’s intelligent, he’s been quite vocal on the track early. It’s pleasing to see him come into a new group and have an impact straight away.

“We’ve been feeling him out a bit, and he’ll be feeling out the group and just seeing how we play compared with where he’s come from.

“There’s still a long way to go with how we’re going to shape up before games start.”

Enright is also open to seeing tall Nathan Krueger and the mid-size Ben Jarvis, who both spent last year in the VFL in attack and defence, being part of the forward set-up.

“It’s really good for their development, particularly in their first year, to be able to play in multiple positions and not just get pigeon-holed into one position,” he said.

“It’s really important they get exposure in different positions. But, there comes a time where you need to find that one position, and have that back-up position in place.

“So, we’ll probably give both those guys a go within the forward line and see how they can go, and we know they can play at the other end as well.

“It’s really important for them to have that flexibility, but then to find their No.1 position also.”

Twitter: @tom_king79