K rock Football

Higgins at home at the Cattery

Geelong midfielder Shaun Higgins in action during the practice match against Collingwood. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

AS far as transitions from one club to another go, Shaun Higgins may be experiencing one of the AFL’s smoothest.

A Geelong Falcons product, Higgins has slipped comfortably back into life in his home town, and that rings just as true at the Cats for the former North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs midfielder.

The 33-year-old admits growing up in Geelong has made life easier, as has Higgins’ 16 years in the system.

“I’ve played a lot of footy against guys like Joel (Selwood), and growing up, we were the same age, so I played junior footy with him and against him,” Higgins said.

“Mitch Duncan, Hawk (Tom Hawkins), these guys we have mutual friends, which definitely makes it easy.

“Then the coaching staff; I played a lot of footy against Corey Enright, Matty Scarlett, and Shaun Grigg, who played at Carlton and Richmond, we were drafted the same year.

“It’s funny how the footy environment and landscape is a small world because wherever you go, you tend to know someone or know of someone. That’s made the transition really easy.

“But, there’s a number of guys my age and that naturally makes it easy to gravitate to as well.”

That familiarity already appears to have paid off, with Higgins a consistent performer across the pre-season hitouts against Collingwood and Essendon.

He has spent time across half-forward and through the midfield, and that’s the mixture Geelong fans are likely to see throughout 2021.

“It’s going to depend on personnel within our team, (and) it’s probably going to depend a little bit on the opposition,” he said.

“I’m comfortable whatever role that is. I also think the amount of players we’ve got to go through the part of the ground from half-back to half-forward, which includes inside-mid, wing, forward (will be a factor).

“We’ve got a number of guys who can rotate through there and are going to play some time there, and I think I fall into that category.”

At the Bulldogs, Higgins had Barry Hall for two seasons, while Ben Brown was the key target for most of his time at Arden Street.

At Geelong, there are options galore inside forward 50, with former Giant Jeremy Cameron to partner Tom Hawkins.

In some way, it’s probably going to be harder because you’ve got to decide who to go to, which is a nice luxury to have,” Higgins said.

“And there are other guys who will be key players down there at times. Paddy’s (Dangerfield) going to be down there; Gary Rohan is a good target in the air as well; there’s definitely going to be no issue about having an option.

“The difficult part will be about who we go to. The great thing about Hawk is he’s not fussed about who kicks them.

“We’re lucky that we’ve got a bit of power in the front half.”

It’s that power that has most experts predicting Geelong to again challenge for a premiership.

And that’s music to the ears of Higgins, who has played in three losing preliminary finals in his 237-game career.

“I’ve had a taste of what those games are… I’ve had a taste one too many times of losing,” he said.

“I look forward to doing the work to get back there again, and hopefully, we give ourselves an opportunity to contend for one.

“Clearly, the most significant driving factor for me, at my age and the stage of my career, is that.

“And that’s why I’m excited to play any role because hopefully that contributes and helps the team to get back there later in the year.”

Twitter: @tom_king79