Blicavs praises Cats’ AFL youngsters

If pushed for a definitive answer, Geelong AFL coach Chris Scott sees the ultra-versatile Mark Blicavs primarily as a defender.

But after watching Blicavs play a pivotal role in last weekend’s breakthrough win over Gold Coast, Scott acknowledges those who reckon the former steeplechaser is best deployed as a hard-running onballer also have a point.

Adding to the conundrum is that the 198cm, 95kg Blicavs will be part of a four-man ruck tandem against gun North Melbourne ruckman Todd Goldstein in Sunday’s clash at Simonds Stadium.

“Obviously, he had a really good game when we played them in the knockout final last year,” said Blicavs of Goldstein, who was best afield in the Kangaroos’ narrow semi-final win.

“As a ruck group, the three or four of us who go there, we will sit down and have a really good look at how we combat him.”

Although skipper Joel Selwood was clearly best afield in the come-from-behind win over the Suns, it is also indisputable that Geelong would not have got over the line were it not for the impressive last-quarter efforts from young guns Blicavs, Cory Gregson, Nakia Cockatoo and Darcy Lang.

They will need to stand up again on Sunday, as the Cats are missing a host of their multiple premiership-winning stars to injury including Jimmy Bartel, Andrew Mackie, Tom Lonergan and Mathew Stokes.

Those absentees are reflected in the betting, with Geelong in the rare position of starting a match at Simonds Stadium as clear outsiders with the bookies.

Blicavs iced one of the very best matches of his 48-game career last Sunday with the sealing goal from outside the 50m arc in the final minute against Gold Coast.

“I’ve got a lot more confidence in my own ability and knowledge of the game,” said the 24-year-old Blicavs, who has developed at a remarkable rate since being taken as a speculative pick on the advice of master Cats recruiter Stephen Wells in the 2011 rookie draft.

“In my first year or two, I would probably look to have passed the ball off or played on really quickly, rather than backing myself to kick the goal.

“But our younger guys are getting more of a sense about moments in the game and what we need to do to get us over the line.

“That comes with experience.”

Geelong and North Melbourne both come into Sunday’s match with 1-2 win-loss records.

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