AFL finals: Geelong coach Chris Scott defends ageing list and VFL youth policy

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Eliza ReillyThe West Australian
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VideoMax Gawn snaps truly amid Melbourne's first-half domination in the prelim against Geelong.

Geelong coach Chris Scott declared the alternative to fielding one of the oldest teams in the competition is to play more kids and “finish in the bottom four,” defending the club’s policy of blooding their next generation via the VFL as some ponder trade requests due to a lack of opportunity.

It comes as Scott declared he “wouldn’t answer (his) phone” if another club came calling as speculation mounts around his future at the club.

Scott is contracted at Geelong next season but it’s thought he could still be approached by Carlton, who are also in discussions with his twin brother Brad, as the Blues search for David Teague’s replacement.

Despite featuring in 11 of the past 15 preliminary finals, Geelong’s extensive finals experience was meaningless as Melbourne booked the first spot in the 2021 grand final with a commanding 83-point win.

But as Geelong bid farewell to another chance at a premiership, the Cats list demographic continues to come under question, their preliminary final side including 11 players over the age of 30 including off-season recruits Jeremy Cameron, Shaun Higgins and Isaac Smith.

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Rumors also continue to swirl about the futures of several young Cats, including Claremont product Jordan Clark who has been linked with a move to Fremantle.

Fellow youngsters Charlie Constable, Quinton Narkle and Nathan Krueger are also reportedly considering moves elsewhere but Scott disagreed a lack of opportunity was stunting their development, even despite the lack of VFL football in the past two seasons.

“It’s the price you pay playing at a successful club as a young player,” he said.

“There is a different alternative, play a few more and finish in the bottom four.

“I’m not going to say this is definitively our strategy but I think it’s very underrated, if you do use history as a guide, the dominant Geelong teams through the end of the first decade of this century played a lot of VFL footy.

“There’s a strong argument to say it’s good grounding to play your best football in your early 20s. Every case is different.”

It’s thought Geelong will remain in Perth for the next few days, conducting exit interviews with players before flying home as the Cats commence one of the more crucial off-seasons in their history.

But Scott doesn’t believe an oversupply of veterans marks the end of Geelong’s premiership window, citing how the club bounced back at the end of 2010 when Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett and dual premiership coach Mark Thompson departed.

“That has been the observation for years. When you get beaten, you look old and when you win it’s because of your experience. I don’t think either are necessarily true,” he said.

“I think we need to dig down and the things we need to improve on are real rather than jumping on the superficial analysis.

“We have had a plan over a period of time that wasn’t dependant on a good win or a bad loss at the end of the season. We’re always considering ways we can tweak our plan a little bit.

“It’s not for me to defend right at the moment.”

Patrick Dangerfield and the Cats were blown away.
Camera IconPatrick Dangerfield and the Cats were blown away. Credit: Paul Kane/via AFL Photos

Scott also acknowledged the toll the past two years had taken on Geelong, hinting a mountain of factors piled up against his side and contributed to their dismal end.

“There’s a few things I won’t speak about tonight that will become clearer over the next few weeks but suffice to say I’m proud of the way our guys endured but we completely ran out of steam tonight,” he said.

“We knew we had some issues. It’s not something I dwell on because I hate it to appear like it was an excuse. We were aware of some of the difficulties we had, even today and over the last couple of weeks, five or six weeks, it feels like we’ve been plugging gaps a little bit.

“Our club, over a long period of time, has found a way to recover from difficult situations and I think we’re in that situation again where we’ve got a choice to make.

“We can roll over or we can take the time we need to regroup.

“We were battered towards the end of the season, not just the last couple weeks but probably the six weeks leading into the finals series.”

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