Determined to defy the AFL’s established boom-and-bust cycle, Geelong have secured Hamish McIntosh and Jared Rivers in a dramatic change to their recruiting strategy.
It is the first time the Cats have recruited 100-plus game veterans since they engineered the crucial trade for Brad Ottens from Richmond in 2004.
Geelong signed Rivers from Melbourne on Thursday as an unrestricted free agent and gave up pick 36 in the national draft to North Melbourne for the injury-prone McIntosh.
After their golden era of three premierships in five years, the Cats were knocked out this season in an elimination final.
But football manager Neil Balme said they remain confident about more short-term success.
“We haven’t believed in the theory that if you’ve been up, you have to drop away before you come up again,” he told AAP.
“It’s not going to be easy and we understand how that’s supposed it work.
“A lot of that is bringing the younger kids on as quickly as you possibly can to support the medium-aged blokes who are still around.
“Again, it’s a lot easier to talk about than it is to do.
“We’re pretty confident we can pretty competitive again with this group.”
Rivers, the 2004 Rising Star, switched clubs on the same day he turned 28.
The key defender played 150 games for the Demons and finished runner-up in their best and fairest voting last year.
His move means Melbourne’s top two in their best and fairest count last year are now at other clubs, with winner Brent Moloney going to Brisbane also through free agency.
McIntosh, also 28, has played 107 games for the Kangaroos – but injuries and the emergence of fellow ruckman Todd Goldstein at Arden St has restricted him to just eight games in the last two seasons.
Geelong recruited Rivers following the retirement of star key defender Matthew Scarlett, while McIntosh comes in to beef up their thin ruck stocks.
“Mixed emotions – will always love North Melbourne they have been like my family, but excited for my future at such a great club in Geelong,” McIntosh said in a tweet.
Also on Thursday, the Cats finalised the trade for Gold Coast player Josh Caddy.
In a twist of trading fate, that deal means the Suns now have the two compensation picks that Geelong originally received for losing Gary Ablett – to Gold Coast.
Balme could see the humour in how the Ablett compensation picks have played out.
“It doesn’t seem fair, really, does it?,” he said with a chuckle.
Also on Thursday, Sydney forward Jesse White met with Adelaide officials on Thursday as the Swans try to negotiate a trade for Crows key forward Kurt Tippett.
Hawthorn announced newly-retired player Cameron Bruce would become their development coach, replacing David Flood.
And Richmond announced key position player David Astbury had signed a two-year contract extension.