Few people at Geelong have been as pleased as Tom Lonergan about Lachie Henderson’s switch of AFL clubs.
Lonergan had long been a fan of the fellow key defender’s work at Carlton.
While most of the focus on Geelong’s recruiting has centred on Patrick Dangerfield and Zac Smith, the Cats have also had a big win by landing Henderson.
It has meant invaluable help for Lonergan and Harry Taylor down back.
The trio will have their hands full on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium, when the third-placed Cats play top side North Melbourne.
The Kangaroos boast a solid combination of key forwards in Jarrad Waite, Drew Petrie and Ben Brown.
Their clash with the Cats’ key defenders will be one of the highlights of an absorbing match.
“(Henderson) has been exceptional … I still remember watching him as a defender when he played for Carlton and thought he just read the game so well,” Lonergan told AAP.
“He’s so tough – he goes for his marks, he’s very brave and strong in a contest.
“That’s what we love, what he’s brought to our team.
“We know what we’re going to get from him every week.”
The Cats need Henderson, given Taylor turns 30 on Sunday and Lonergan is 32.
“It’s no secret both of us are getting on a little bit,” Lonergan said.
“To have another good, solid key defender back there to help in match-ups at times and versatility – we’ve really clicked as a trio.
“He’s quite a driven individual and he’s certainly helped the whole team in the way he goes about his footy.”
There have also been obvious benefits for Henderson – a successful club, an experienced defensive unit and more back-up when he plays against the league’s star forwards.
And Geelong’s backline coach is Matthew Scarlett, one of the game’s best-ever key defenders.
“He’s ready to launch … he’s going to be a great acquisition for us,” Lonergan said of Henderson.
After two upset losses to Collingwood and Carlton, the Cats rebounded with a strong win at home over GWS.
Geelong have lost key forward Tom Hawkins to suspension, but Lonergan said it was up to the Cats to show they could cope with his absence.
“Through the course of the year things like this do pop up and you’re not going to have your best side available throughout the whole year,” he said.
“So it is good for other guys to get a go and that’s what good teams deal with when they don’t have one of best players.
“They deal with that, move on and don’t let it worry them.”