K rock Football

George braced for early fire

North Geelong coach Ayden George. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Darren Phillips)

NORTH Geelong coach Ayden George expects the move of a trio of former Anakie stars to Keith Barclay Oval since the end of the 2019 season to contribute to the early intensity of Saturday’s clash with the Roos.

Star ruckman Luke Wilson, 2018 best-and-fairest Brad Gerrard and former captain Jamie Phillis have all traded the navy blue and red for black and white in the past 18 months.

“I think the boys that have come across will have a point to prove,” George said.

“It should be interesting, but I think there’ll be something there early, and then it will fizzle out, and we’ll get back to playing footy.

“I’ll be preaching the message of “let your footy do the talking, and not worry about the other stuff”.

“We’ll get our playing group to look after them and let them play their best footy.”

Wilson, Gerrard and Phillis are among nine new or returning faces for the Magpies.

Reece and Jacob Tompkins, former Anglesea player Aaron Grant and ex-Grovedale midfielder Jacob Bruns will also represent the club for the first time.

Charlie Farrell and Josh Widdison are both back at the club after playing elsewhere before COVID-19.

“What it has done has put pressure on the guys who have been at our club previously,” George said.

“And I’m big on if you’ve done the work and go about it the right way, you’ll get an opportunity.

“The guys that we’ve brought into the club have really bought into that, and it’s helping us create a competitive culture.”

The addition of Wilson and Reece Tompkins will provide George with greater flexibility in the forward line.

Wilson’s arrival will allow Tom Davis to push forward and, with Tompkins’ addition, give the Magpies two key marking targets.

“We’ll have one a bit deeper and the other play a bit higher, which is going to take a little bit of pressure off Mitch (Habib), George said.

“He plays taller than what he is, but he can probably get out on the lead a little bit more than having the footy sat on top of his head like we did a little bit much in 2019.”

Twitter: @tom_king79