EXPERIENCE: Geelong premiership stars Brad Ottens, left, and Tom Lonergan, right, pictured with ANZ executive for North West Victoria, Jason Marr, at today’s coaching the coaches seminar. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
By MITCH RODD
GEELONG premiership stars Brad Ottens and Tom Lonergan have confidence that the current Cats side can go deep in the 2019 AFL finals.
The duo are in Sunraysia for a number of events. They took a training session with local Richmond Next Generation Academy (NGA) members on Wednesday, and were guests at a ‘coaching the coaches’ at South Mildura Sporting Club today.
They will also be guests at tomorrow’s ANZ Agribusiness Conference at Mildura Arts Centre.
Triple premiership ruckman Ottens is part of the coaching staff at Geelong. while 2011 premiership defender Lonergan is the talent manager for Calder Cannons in the NAB League.
Despite Geelong’s less than ideal finals record since the 2011 flag, both are bullish about their former side’s chances in 2019 after winning the minor premiership.
“Observing from afar, I think they’re in a really good place and position in that they are healthy and they’ve secured a home final, which probably doesn’t actually mean much playing against Collingwood at the MCG,” Lonergan said.
“If they can get through that and into the prelim they’re a great chance.
“They’ve got a lot of soldiers who have been there before and know what finals are all about. There’s really no excuses now.”
Ottens added coach Chris Scott has almost an entire playing list to select from for next Friday’s qualifying final against the Magpies.
“We’re in a really good position,” he said, “if you finish top of the ladder you’re a pretty high likelihood of making a grand final. We’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do to make that happen.
“Tommy touched on the finals experience, it’s probably something that hasn’t been our strength in the last couple of years, but we’ve got some guys who have played a lot of finals footy now.
“A lot of those younger guys have had their chance and held their position, Gryan Miers is probably the one that stands out. He’s just been really consistent throughout the whole year, he’s got a huge amount of talent, he’s got an amazing ability to find the goals when the team needs him too.
“But all the young guys have made the team better, which is a great sign.”
While training the Sunraysia NGA juniors, Lonergan said much of the focus was on fundamentals and decision making.
“I think at this level, a lot of it is around fundamentals and ensuring that their skills are all good,” he said.
“There was a lot of stoppage work with ‘in-tight’ hands, contested possession and getting it into the forward line. You can already see that there is some great talent out here.
“Decision making is critical for being able to use the footy, knowing when to use it and get it out of that congestion and out into space.
“You see a lot of AFL teams they can go and score really quickly. That’s a key component to a good footballer.”
In recent months, Lonergan was inducted into the Geelong Football Club Hall of Fame, following 209 games and 55 goals.
He joined Ottens in receiving the honour, with the premiership ruckman playing 116 games and kicking 109 after crossing from Richmond in 2004.
“It’s very humbling,” Lonergan said.
“It’s very cliche but you don’t play footy for those things, you play it to win premierships, for the mateship, and to have success.
“When it’s all said and done, to have your name in the Hall of Fame is something we’re both really proud of.”
“It’s a huge honour,” Ottens added.
“Tommy and I are both probably in the same boat, both very lucky to have been part of such a successful period in the club’s history.
“To have been able to have played with some of the greatest players to have played for the Cats, to be honoured in that way was really humbling.
“It’s an honour just to be part of the Geelong footy club alone, let alone in that successful era.”