Cats play down rebuild talk in AFL

Geelong coach Chris Scott denies his team need to go through a drastic rebuild despite their flop against West Coast on Sunday.

The 12th-placed Cats (4-5) are in danger of missing the finals for the first time since 2006 after copping a 16.24 (120) to 10.4 (64) hiding at the hands of a rampant Eagles outfit in Perth.

The final margin would have been closer to triple figures had West Coast kicked straight, with the Eagles spraying 4.17 in the first half before finally finding their radar.

Compounding Geelong’s woes were injuries to big men Mitch Clark (calf) and Rhys Stanley (quad), with the pair in doubt for Saturday’s crunch clash with Essendon.

Geelong’s average losing margin this season is 44 points, leaving them with a poor percentage of 89.9.

Scott remains optimistic Geelong will find their winning formula again soon, and he was quick to play down any talk the team is in need of a list overhaul.

“I certainly wouldn’t use the word rebuild and I don’t think anyone else would either,” Scott said.

“We have been in the process of transitioning our list for a long period of time.

“And that’s going to continue over the next couple of years because we have some well-credentialed players who are nearing the end of their career – whether it is this year, or the year after, or the year after that.

“We didn’t wake up this morning or post-game and think that we need to change our long-term plan drastically. We have been on this path a long time.”

Ruckman Nic Naitanui played a blinder against the Cats, with the 25-year-old producing a mark-of-the-season contender when he climbed onto the shoulders of 200cm teammate Callum Sinclair to take a pack mark.

“It was a pretty good mark. I reckon he had a look at City Beach there for a while given how high he was up,” West Coast coach Adam Simpson said.

“People might quieten up a little bit about him (not) taking marks.”

The Eagles entered Sunday’s match with the most accurate goalkicking record this season, but they had 4.19 to their name before they finally broke the funk.

Forward Josh Kennedy finished with six goals, while Naitanui (two goals, 36 hit-outs, seven clearances) was also influential.

Simpson said his team’s inaccuracy was nothing more than an aberration.

And the coach was quick to play down any top-four hype surrounding his club, despite the Eagles sitting pretty in second spot following a six-match winning run.

“I think you’re jumping the gun there,” Simpson said.

“Our goal from the start was to improve, and we finished ninth last year.

“So we want to play finals if we can.

“Playing a brand that we think stands up in bigger games is what we’re striving for, and today was another small step towards that.”

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