Matthew Scarlett has found the transition from Geelong’s greatest-ever fullback to being a fulltime coach of some of his closest mates to be mostly a comfortable one.
But there were a few distinctly uncomfortable moments in the coaches box last Friday as Collingwood banged on nine unanswered third-quarter goals against the Cats in an AFL pre-season match which turned into a shootout.
The Magpies ended up winning by eight points, with Scarlett – now the Cats’ fulltime defensive coach after a couple of years playing and coaching in the local league and a part-time stint with the Western Bulldogs – left with plenty to ponder.
“Our defenders didn’t have a great night but certainly they need help from the forwards and midfield as well,” said Scarlett, a key member of the Cats’ 2007, 2009 ad 2011 premiership teams.
“We’re looking to improve that part of our game.
“I thought we attacked really well but we’ve got to defend a lot better.”
Scarlett is confident that Lachie Henderson will be much better for the run.
The former Brisbane and Carlton player has been pencilled in to hold down a key defensive post at his third AFL club.
“Lachie was a bit nervous before the game but he got through OK and I think he’ll play a bit better this week (against Essendon),” Scarlett said on Tuesday.
Henderson joins a Geelong defensive unit including several long-term friends and teammates of Scarlett including Corey Enright, Andrew Mackie, Harry Taylor and Tom Lonergan.
The Cats will welcome back experienced trio Jimmy Bartel, Josh Caddy and Lonergan for Saturday’s NAB Challenge match against Essendon in Shepparton.
Superstar recruit Patrick Dangerfield will also back up against the Bombers after being the Cats’ standout player in the loss to Collingwood.
Skipper Joel Selwood remains on track to play in the round one clash against Hawthorn after battling a foot injury during the pre-season.
Selwood returned to full training this week.