K rock Football

Duncan catches Knight’s eye

Geelong midfielder Mitch Duncan. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

GEELONG assistant coach Matthew Knights has backed experienced midfielder Mitch Duncan to have an impact when the 2020 season resumes next month.

Duncan played in Round 1 despite an injury-interrupted pre-season in which he underwent both hip and shoulder operations.

He featured in a VFL practice match before taking on the GWS Giants, tallying 21 possessions and kicking three goals.

However, Knights said the 2011 premiership player has benefited from the shutdown of the AFL season.

“Mitch Duncan’s done a great job with the way he’s gone during his off-period,” Knights said.

“Mitch, Sam Menegola and Joel Selwood were all a little bit underdone for that Round 1 game, but all three of them have had quality periods where they’ve been able to elevate their training and do everything.

“But, I think Mitch, the way he’s prepared himself, the way he’s running, his body shape – he’s been excellent.”

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Draftee Cooper Stephens has also caught Knights’ eye in the two weeks since training resumed.

The Geelong Falcons product appeared in the Marsh Series loss to Gold Coast but missed out on an AFL debut against the Giants.

But Knights said Stephens was giving himself every opportunity to feature against Hawthorn on June 12.

“I think Cooper has really grown over the first two weeks,” Knights said.

“Joel’s (Selwood) been doing a lot of one-on-one work with him, which has been pleasing to see.”

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Knights, who is again in charge of the Geelong midfield in 2020, took the opportunity to closely watch the Hawks’ impressive win over Brisbane in Round 1 during the shutdown.

“They did what they do very well forward of centre; they used the ball well with their short kicks, and the way they manufactured their goals was quite precise,” he said.

“And as a midfield group, they’ve got some high-class with (Tom) Mitchell, (Jaeger) O’Meara, (James) Worpel, (Liam) Shiel.

“They’ve got a good mix now between contested and run.

“I probably watched our game and the Hawthorn-Brisbane game three or four more times than I would normally.”

Twitter: @tom_king79