K rock Football

Development focus for Wood

Geelong coach Nat Wood addresses her players earlier in the season. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

GEELONG will use its final round VFLW clash with Carlton at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday as another chance to develop its talented crop of youngsters ahead of the 2020 AFLW season.

The Cats can still play finals, with a win over the lowly Blues, a loss for either Melbourne Uni to NT Thunder or Hawthorn to Collingwood opening the door for them to snatch sixth spot on the ladder.

However, claiming a finals berth won’t be at the forefront of coach Natalie Wood’s mind heading into the meeting with the Blues.

“As I’ve said throughout the year, (this season) has been about development, and I think in the last month we’ve been really able to show that with rotating our players around and playing players in different positions,” Wood said.

“Even as recently as last week, we played Denby Taylor up on a wing and Sophie Van De Heuvel in the middle – just giving them the opportunity to learn some different positions.

“We’ll go into the game with the plan to win, but we still don’t move away from the philosophy of development.

“We’ve got players going into new positions this week, and we know that in the long term they will be better for having had that run.”


For Geelong, it will be just its second appearance on GMHBA Stadium as an AFL curtain-raiser, with its previous appearance in 2018 resulting in a thrilling win over Carlton.

Wood is hoping Cats fans turn out early to support her team and witness their development first-hand.

“We’re really fortunate this week to play a lot of our 2018 (AFLW) draftees and three NAB League players,” she said.

“It’s a terrific opportunity for the public to see the evolution of our game, but also for the Geelong fans to see how their female athletes have developed and connect with them before we come into pre-season and roll into AFLW.”

AFLW talent returning after missing the win over Williamstown includes Rocky Cranston, Danni Orr and Renee Garing.

Among the NAB League players in action are potential father-daughter selection Millie Brown, who will make her second appearance in the Hoops, and two-time Geelong Falcons best-and-fairest Lucy McEvoy, who the Cats are understood to be keen on drafting.

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GEELONG (7th) vs. CARLTON (12th)

GMHBA Stadium

Saturday, August 24, 1:45pm