Geelong’s trio of stars predicted to thrive in AFLX debut
ONE of Geelong’s key midfielders for tonight’s inaugural AFLX series says the anticipated speed of the game should provide copious amounts of space for stars Mitch Duncan and Tom Hawkins to thrive.
The Cats take on Port Adelaide and Fremantle on a rectangular field at Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide, with matches played over 10-minute halves.
The club has sent a relatively inexperienced side across the border for the series, with Duncan and Hawkins clearly the most seasoned of the 18-man squad.
That duo will be crucial to Geelong’s hopes of succeeding tonight but Sam Menegola — who will form the nucleus of the Cats’ on-ball brigade with Duncan, Mark Blicavs, and debutant Tim Kelly — believes his team will be well suited to the AFLX format.
“We’d definitely like to win, and because it’s a different game you do have to develop some strategy for it,” Menegola said.
“The nature of it is there is going to be a lot less congestion around the footy and that changes a massive amount about how the game is played.
“We’ve had to sit down and have a look how we want to play, and hopefully we’ve come up with a good plan but we’ll find out. We’re unsure how it is going to play out but it would be nice for Hawk if he had a little bit more space than usual.
“It is going to be a pretty quick game and whether it will be up and back the whole time I’m not sure.”
“There will definitely be fewer contests and less congestion, so it will probably be more about how we move the footy.”
Menegola, who has been rated as elite by Champion Data in the mid-forward category, has been flying during pre-season and will again be a vital cog in Geelong’s engine room in 2018.
The 25-year-old said he was looking forward to finally getting back to playing footy again after a lengthy summer training program, and added he was eager to see how the Cats’ draftees would fare on the AFL stage.
“It’s good for us older guys who have played a little bit more to get back into the swing of things and to have a trip like this in the pre-season,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to getting back into some competitive footy again against other clubs, but it will be exciting for the young guys too. They’ve all had really strong summers so they’ll bring their own bits and pieces to the side.
“There is a little bit of the unknown (with AFLX) because you don’t know what other teams are going to throw at you. We’ve played and got a look at what our teams did against each other but one of the really interesting subplots of the games will be how different teams get the game on their terms.
“It will be interesting as a player but also for the spectators watching.”
X FACTOR: AFLX kicks off tonight with a Geelong team starring Tom Hawkins (Wolverine), Mitch Duncan (Professor X) and Sam Menegola (Magneto).
VITAL: Sam Menegola.