Geelong coach Chris Scott has pledged that the club’s ageing premiership heroes will be accorded due respect and sentiment when the difficult calls are made on their playing futures.
The Cats have done an excellent job in previous years managing the retirements of the likes of Brad Ottens, Joel Corey and Cameron Ling and facilitating the moves of Paul Chapman and James Podsiadly to other AFL teams.
But the situation this year is more nuanced, with nine players aged over 30 on their list including triple flag-winners Jimmy Bartel, Corey Enright, Steve Johnson, Andrew Mackie and James Kelly.
Jared Rivers and Hamish McIntosh are almost certainly in their last year at the Cattery, while Bartel and defenders Mackie and Tom Lonergan are set to play on in 2016.
That leaves important decisions to be made on Enright, Johnson, Kelly and Mathew Stokes.
Not all of them can continue on next year, especially with Geelong linked to several potential big-name recruits including Crow Patrick Dangerfield, West Coast’s Scott Selwood and Blues’ key-position player Lachie Henderson.
“Players that have given their heart and soul to our footy club and been instrumental in success deserve that respect,” Scott said on Wednesday when asked if sentiment would play a part in the decisions.
“It’s incumbent on them to make sure they don’t restrict the opportunities this club has in the future in terms of the development of players and what we’re trying to do to our list.
“But my experience in my short time here is that that’s never been a problem.
“We certainly won’t be making really cold business decisions to the detriment of the great individuals that have supported this club for a long time.”
Scott is confident Geelong will re-sign star utility Steven Motlop, who has attracted serious interest from several other clubs.
Motlop was among the Cats’ best with three goals and 11 tackles in last weekend’s win over the Western Bulldogs.
“With those brilliant players, it tends to be that if there’s any negativity directed towards them, it’s directed at their defensive game and really Mots has led us in that area in the last month or so,” said Scott.
“If he combines that defensive intent and execution, 11 tackles and pressure acts with the offensive part of his game, then he’s a high-level player, no question.”