K rock Football

New deal for Ratugolea

Esava Ratugolea has signed a two-year contract extension with Geelong. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

AHEAD of his 50th AFL match, Esava Ratugolea has signed a new two-year contract with Geelong.

The new deal will keep the 22-year-old at the club until at least the end of 2023.

“I can’t wait to see what this group does going forward, and I want to be a part of it, so it’s very exciting times,” Ratugolea said.

“I got drafted with a few of the blokes who have signed on, Jack Henry, Mark O’Connor and Brandan Parfitt.

“I love the group; I can’t wait to develop my footy and grow with this club.”

CATS: FORWARD CLOSE TO A NEW DEAL

Selected with pick No.43 in the 2016 National Draft from NAB League club Murray Bushrangers, Ratugolea debuted in Round 1, 2018.

He played eight games that season before suffering a serious lower leg injury against Carlton at GMHBA Stadium.

Ratugolea returned to play 20 of a possible 25 matches, including all three of Geelong’s finals, in 2019.

Last year, he appeared in 12 home-and-away games but was dropped for the Cats’ run to the grand final.

Since overcoming a leg injury suffered in the pre-season, he has played nine of Geelong’s last ten matches.

“Esava continues to develop his football craft in a number of roles both in the ruck and up forward,” Lloyd said.

“He’s exciting to watch and has great potential to build on his first 49 games of AFL experience.

“We see Esava as a key part of the club’s next generation, and we are pleased to have secured his services.”

Ratugolea’s signing leaves 16 Cats without a deal for 2021, including reigning best-and-fairest Cam Guthrie, Rhys Stanley, Lachie Henderson, Gryan Miers, Quinton Narkle and Bradley Close.

Meanwhile, the AFL has confirmed the fixture for Round 19.

Geelong’s scheduled meeting with Richmond on Sunday at the MCG will remain. However, the first bounce time of 1:45pm is now TBC.

Three matches from Round 20 have been brought forward to this weekend, with the Brisbane Lions to host Gold Coast at the Gabba, Adelaide and Hawthorn to meet at Adelaide Oval, and Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs to do battle at the MCG.

The Gold Coast-Melbourne, Western Bulldogs-Adelaide, and Hawthorn-Brisbane Lions match-ups from Round 19 will now be played the following week.

Twitter: @tom_king79

ROUND 19
Friday, July 23 STADIUM  EST LOCAL
Port Adelaide vs. Collingwood Adelaide Oval 7.10pm 6.40pm
Saturday, July 24 STADIUM EST LOCAL
Carlton vs. North Melbourne Marvel Stadium 1.45pm 1.45pm
Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast The Gabba 3.10pm 3.10pm
West Coast Eagles vs. St Kilda Optus Stadium 4.35pm 2.35pm
Adelaide Crows vs. Hawthorn Adelaide Oval 6.10pm 5.40pm
Melbourne vs. Western Bulldogs MCG 7.25pm 7.25pm
Sunday, July 25 STADIUM  EST LOCAL
Sydney Swans vs. Fremantle Metricon Stadium 12.30pm 12.30pm
Geelong Cats vs. Richmond MCG TBC TBC
Essendon vs. GWS GIANTS TBC TBC TBC