K rock Football

Sav happy to play anywhere

Esava Ratugolea flies for a mark in Geelong’s preliminary final loss to Richmond. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

HAVING let his mind wander during the off-season to what a forward line featuring Tom Hawkins, Adelaide recruit Josh Jenkins and himself will work, Geelong youngster Esava Ratugolea is content to play whatever role coach Chris Scott requires in 2020.

“It has played on mind a little bit,” Ratugolea said as the Cats took to Deakin University’s Elite Sports Precinct at Waurn Ponds for the first time this pre-season.

“I’m not sure what the coaches want, but I’m sure they’ll make the right decision.

“I’m happy to play anywhere – if Josh needs more space, I’ll give him more space.

“That will probably give me more chance to play a bit more in the ruck and help Rhys (Stanley) out a little it.

“But I’ll be happy to play anywhere.”

Ratugolea, who played 20 games in 2019 to take his career tally to 28 after returning from a severe leg injury suffered last year, says building endurance and strength will be crucial for him over summer.

“I will be working a lot on my body movements and my bodywork, and a lot of my ruck craft this off-season, as well,” the 21-year-old said.

“That will be a lot more of a focus this pre-season than last pre-season.

“I want to cover the ground a little bit more this year – play a little bit more higher up the ground, especially with Josh Jenkins coming in.

It is just under two months since Geelong made its fourth preliminary final exit in the last seven seasons, losing by 19 points to eventual premier Richmond.

Ratugolea says the Cats are keen to move on from the disappointment.

“Obviously we were hurting after that game; it did affect me (for) probably a week after that,” he said.

“But, we’re just about moving forward. We don’t want to look back at this year’s prelim loss.

“We’ve got new players in, and we just want to start fresh and move forward from that.”

Joining the Cats’ second-to-fourth year players at Deakin were Jenkins and former St Kilda midfielder Jack Steven, who both joined the club in October.

While numbers for new players haven’t been officially allocated, Jenkins was wearing a training jumper carrying the No.9 vacated by Zac Smith, and Steven had the No.11 previously worn by Tim Kelly.

Injury-prone livewire Nakia Cockatoo, midfielder Mitch Duncan, who missed the semi-final and preliminary final with a knee injury, and best-and-fairest Patrick Dangerfield were also on the track despite not needing to return for another fortnight.

Twitter: @tom_king79