Bartel shocked by Geelong Cats’ ruck liability

Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel has acknowledged that the Cats and he are both surprised by the experienced ruckman Rhys Stanley’s sudden fall.

At the SCG on Sunday, the Cats gave away a five-goal lead to lose to Sydney by thirty points, with Swans ruckman Brodie Grundy playing a dominant role.

Along with Chad Warner (26 disposals), Errol Gulden (37 touches), and Isaac Heeney (26 disposals), Grundy (24 disposals) was another important midfield piece for the Swans.

Stanley, his rucking opponent, was limited to only eight touches in the Cats’ 2024 fifth-place defeat.

For the 2022 premiers, who have failed to get Stanley to return to the peak of his career, which enabled Geelong to win that particular flag against Sydney two seasons prior, it is cause for grave concern.

Bartel has now revealed how shocked he is that Stanley has regressed.

“On Sunday night, on Nine’s Footy Furnace, I think even the Cats are surprised at how quick the ruck drop off has been,” Bartel stated.

It’s been a drawback.

“I think they were hoping he could carry the ruck for a year, and then Toby Conway steps in to be the number one ruck.”

Leigh Matthews, an Australian football legend, mirrored Bartel’s worries.

“That is an ongoing problem for the (Cats),” he stated.

“Every now and then they overcome it and they hide that achilles heel, but (against Sydney) it was just exposed, as it is quite often.”

What then is the Cats’ solution?

Bartel worries that until they move one of their finest defenders out of position, they won’t have anyone else to shuffle into the ruck.

“I don’t think they’ve got any other option,” he replied.

“Unless you just played Mark Blicavs as the one-out ruck and just concede that, ‘we’re not going to win the ruck anyway, at least we can get some other things at ground level’.”

In the interim, Matthews believes the Cats will not win the flag this year because they lack the ruck stock of the Swans, Essendon, or Carlton.

“You watch the game (Essendon vs Carlton) and Todd Goldstein was there for Essendon (as their number one ruckman) and you wonder, have the (Cats) for right now, got a journeyman ruckman that can be more competitive than Rhys Stanley is on a lot of occassions,” he explained.

“I don’t believe they can prevail. They need Patrick Dangerfield, who is back to his best after an injury. “I’m not quite sure Paddy’s got that high a level in him.”

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