HOW THE CATS TAMED LIONS
Sam grabs chance
AS the days ticked over beyond 700 since Sam Simpson last pulled on the blue and white hoops at AFL level, he always believed he would get another chance.
The midfielder grabbed his opportunity when it came, racking up a game-high 27 disposals in Thursday night’s win over the Brisbane Lions.
That impressive total was more than double his previous career high.
Simpson had to wait 728 days to play his seventh match with the Cats, having last enjoyed AFL action in Round 17, 2018.
Having won the Geelong VFL bestand-fairest last year, the smooth mover was knocking on the door for a spot well before he got his chance.
Through talks with assistant coach Nigel Lappin, Simpson had stayed positive in the two years between games.
“It was a long time but you always have that belief and you are working towards it,” he said. “I have spent a lot of time with the coaches in between then, especially with Nigel Lappin, and we talk a lot about enjoying the process.
“That keeps you motivated and with the belief that the opportunity will come and it was always there, I think.”
Injuries to midfielders Quinton Narkle and Mitch Duncan resulted in Simpson spending more time on the wing and through the middle than initially planned and he found the ball with ease as the game progressed, collecting 11 touches in the final quarter.
Spending more time in the centre in the VFL and in scratch matches this season had helped the 22-year-old find the right spots to collect the ball.
“It’s been about working with the coaches and knowing your opportunity is going to come soon so just be ready to take it,” he said.
“Just spending that time in the midfield and on those wing roles in the scratch matches we have had with the other clubs and nailing that balance of inside and outside footy and being able to offer that
I can do both when the team needs.”
After Geelong had trailed by 22 points midway through the second quarter against the Lions, Simpson felt a shift when the Cats were able to sneak two quick goals in just before half-time.
The momentum built through a remarkable third term in which Geelong’s seven goals blew the game open.
“It was bloody good fun, it was great celebrating goals with the boys so often,” Simpson said. “It was great, it was probably a moment to really enjoy it and take it all in.”
Sam Simpson handballs under pressure from Brisbane's Oscar McInerney.