K rock Football

Tsitas takes it to another level

James Tsitas in action for Geelong in Saturday night’s VFL loss to Footscray. (Geelong Cats Image/Arj Giese)

WHEN Geelong held its VFL best and fairest count last year, the name James Tsitas was on top of the leaderboard after Round 12.

Tsitas would eventually finish third behind winner Tom Atkins and Tom Stewart.

It’s safe to assume that when this year’s best and fairest count is held at the end of the season, Tsitas’ name will again be in contention.

The 22-year-old is having a better campaign that last season, reflected by his move into the midfield after spending 2016 playing in defence.

Tsitas is averaging just under 26 possessions, five marks and six tackles a game but believes he’s got more improvement in his game.

“I definitely feel like I’m a better player (than 2016),” Tsitas told krockfootball.com.au.

“I feel like I’m more consistent, more composed with the ball, making better decisions and my intensity is up more than last year.

“The coaches are constantly challenging me and it’s great. I really enjoy playing at this level

“I feel like I have taken my game to another level – but there’s still another couple of levels to go so I need to make sure I keep listen to the coaches and take that next step.”

Since arriving at Simonds Stadium the former Geelong Falcon has played 30 of a possible 31 games.

He played 29 matches in two seasons at North Ballarat.

“I feel like this year I’ve really stepped up my game,” Tsitas said. “It’s been a lot of hard work the last three years in the VFL and I’ve had to learn the hard way.”

Tsitas had a season-high 31 disposals in Geelong’s loss to Footscray on Saturday night and Cats coach Shane O’Bree hailed his consistency as one of the shining lights of the season to date.

He’s working his butt off getting a lot of the ball and looks more composed with the ball,” O’Bree said.

“We need to steady our backline up with a lot of youth down there, so `Tsit’ might need to play back a bit more than we’d like him to be around the midfield, but he’s having a good season.”

Consecutive losses to Collingwood and Footscray means the Cats need to virtually win all of their remaining six games if they want to be part of the September action again.

Tsitas said they’ve shown glimpses this year their best is capable of beating any side.

“We’ve got a young AFL list and boys playing their first year of VFL footy and the last two weeks has been really good for their development, showing them what’s required at the level,” he said.

“Thankfully teams around us have kind of kept us in it and that’s the VFL competition – one week you can have 18 AFL-listed players and the next you can have six or seven.

“Thankfully a lot of teams haven’t played their most consistent seasons either, so if we can start to put it together – which I definitely think we’re capable of – you never know.

“But we’ve made it tough work for ourselves.”

Twitter: @GreenBradley