The Cats found yet another midfield star in 2015, when a smooth operating, faired haired tagger graduated to genuine on-baller.
Name: Cameron Guthrie
Team: Geelong Cats
Age: 23 years, 5 months
2015 average: 97.1
2015 games: 21
100+ scores: 8
The arrival of Patrick Dangerfield (did you hear about that?) has prompted Guthrie to say that he’s likely to spend more time in defence this season.
Is this a curse for this scoring, or a blessing in disguise?
I want to take you back to the end of last year first. Guthrie hit such good form; he averaged a tick over 123 from the last six matches of 2015.
Considering up until that point he was only averaging 86, it’s a terrific return. I often look for young players who finish the season well because as we know, it’s not uncommon for them to drop off as the toll of a long AFL season becomes evident.
Three scores 135 or above shows he has an impressive ceiling too.
I’m not sure the move to defence has to be a negative thing, we’ve seen exceptional seasons from players rebounding off half-back in the past like Nick Malceski and Heath Shaw.
Of course, Champion Data is reactive in terms of positioning and for 2016 Guthrie is available solely in the midfield.
His price is also a deterrent, because it is a lot to pay for someone who certainly isn’t a proven scorer.
The concern I have with spending more time down back is if he is required to return to his 2013 and 2014 tagging days in a lock down on opposition forward pockets. The NAB Cup will be vital to identify his role.
With his possession numbers on the rise last year, it seems as if they might plateau with midfield time to be cut short. However, an excellent disposal efficiency record and an ability to run out games means a Heath Shaw type rebound role would be the ideal scenario.
Verdict: He’s far from locked in, but I’ll be monitoring the young Cat because of his ability to score big from last season. Will certainly be a POD and their opening month isn’t too difficult round one aside: Hawks, Giants, Lions and Bombers.