K rock Football

Lessons learned for Atkins

Tom Atkins at Geelong training on Friday. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

TOM Atkins won’t be using his axing from the Geelong team for its run to last year’s grand final as motivation heading into the 2021 season.

Instead, the 25-year-old will focus on the lessons learned after he was dropped following Cats’ disappointing qualifying final loss to Port Adelaide.

Atkins was the only casualty from the 16-point defeat by the Power, with Sam Simpson taking his spot for the remainder of October as Geelong made a run to its first decider in nine years.

“The lesson I learned is that it (footy) is bigger than the individual,” he told krockfootball.com.au. “At the time, for you, it feels like the worse thing that’s happened.

“But, it’s not really about that. It’s about the Geelong footy club trying to win a grand final, ultimately.

“The club was around a long time before I’ve been at the club, and it will be there a long time after I leave.

“So, it’s probably not important that I missed a couple of games. The more disappointing part of the year was that we lost the grand final.”


Atkins, who has played 35 games since earning his chance in the 2019 Rookie Draft, concedes Simpson provided the Cats with a different look in the forward line.

“At that time, we needed a bit of a change after the Port game, and Sammy offered an attacking element within the team that I didn’t offer,” he said.

“I could try and become him, but then I’d go away from what my strengths are.

They’re picking players based on their attributes and what fits in best.

“There’s no point me being someone I’m not.”

With Jeremy Cameron’s arrival and fellow recruits Shaun Higgins and Isaac Smith likely to spend time in the forward line, Atkins has been training with Geelong’s defensive unit during pre-season.

“Scarlo’s (assistant coach Matthew Scarlett) been really supportive of me learning; I’m obviously pretty raw as a defender,” he said.

“They’re a really strong backline, so it’s been great to learn from some of the players down there.

“We’ve only had 2-3 weeks of me training as a backman, but I’m enjoying it so far. I’ll play wherever, to be honest; I don’t really mind.

“I enjoyed my time as a forward, and if there’s a spot as a forward, then I’ll go for that. But, if there’s room in the defence, then I’ll play there.”

Atkins enters 2021 out-of-contract at the end of the season but says he hasn’t given his status too much thought.

“It’s in the back of your mind,” he said. “But, whatever will be will be.

“I’ve just got to focus on playing good footy. Hopefully, it all goes well.

“And, if it doesn’t, I’ve had a pretty good three years.”

Twitter: @tom_king79