K rock Football

Experience boost for VFL Cats

Scott Selwood in action during Geelong’s Round 4 AFL win over St Kilda. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Marcel Berens)

ON paper, it’s the strongest and most experienced side that Shane O’Bree has fielded in his three seasons as Geelong VFL coach.

The Cats have named 17 AFL-listed players in their line-up for Saturday morning’s curtain raiser against North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium.

Geelong (sixith) has added 588 games of AFL experience to its side for the showdown with the eighth-placed Kangaroos – highlighted by the inclusions of Lachie Henderson, for his first game of 2018 at any level, and the returns of Scott Selwood and Cam Guthrie from injuries.

Stewart Crameri and Corey Gregon also return after sitting out last week.

But ruckman Zac Smith will miss the game with a back injury.

O’Bree said Smith has been carrying back stiffness the past couple of weeks and it was decided to err on the side of caution with him this week with the Cats coming up to a mid-season bye and a big campaign ahead of him in the second half of the year.

The 206cm Smith has been averaging 14 possessions and 26 hitouts from six appearances at VFL level.

VFL-listed players Ben Reid and Trent McMullan have also been replaced in the squad by Callum Mitchell and Paddy Dowling (23rd man) this week.

O’Bree said Henderson, who hasn’t played at VFL level for a number of years, would be monitored as to how much gametime he’s exposed to in his first hit-out since last year’s AFL Preliminary Final.

“Lachie is just excited to play footy again. He hasn’t had a lot of luck over the pre-season with his knee and we hope he, like the other boys coming back, plays with a lot of freedom and enjoy themselves and get through the game unscathed,” O’Bree told krockfootball.com.au last night.

“It’s exciting to get those guys back from injury and into our VFL program.”

It’s a big game for both the Cats and Kangaroos with the winner having the opportunity to consolidate their spot inside the top eight nearing the half-way point of the season.

North Melbourne heads down the highway coming off a big win over Sandringham last round and O’Bree said the Kangaroos have made an encouraging start to life as a standalone VFL side.

“The last few weeks they’ve beaten quality opposition really convincingly and we’ll have to do a bit more research on them this week and how we can nullify them but also expose them in certain areas as well,” he said.

“It should be a good match and the next two weeks we’re playing teams around the same position as us on the ladder. They’re the games that you want to win to get a bit of a buffer around you.”

MEANWHILE reigning Geelong Falcons best-and-fairest Cassidy Parish will make his VFL debut this round, named as 23rd for man the Tigers’ Saturday afternoon clash with Port Melbourne at Avalon Airport Oval.

Twitter: @GreenBradley

VFL ROUND 10

GEELONG (6th) vs. NORTH MELBOURNE (8th)

GMHBA Stadium

Saturday, June 9, 10:00am

WERRIBEE (12th) vs. PORT MELBOURNE (7th)

Avalon Airport Oval

Saturday, June 9, 3:00pm

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