HOW THE CATS TAMED LIONS

Sam grabs chance

Geelong Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - JOSH BARNES

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.

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