Fresh faces rejuvenating AFL Cats: Duncan

·2-min read

If you're looking for a visual reminder of how much Geelong has changed in 2022 you only need to cast your eye to the bench at the start of the Cats' qualifying final win over Collingwood.

There, sitting on the pine, were skipper Joel Selwood and explosive midfielder Patrick Dangerfield.

It was a sight that previously would have stunned all comers but now represents how Geelong have lost reliance on their veterans amid a fresh generation stepping up.

"It did (surprise) but we want them playing at their best and sometimes that's whether they're starting on the bench at the start of the game or (start of) quarters," fellow veteran Mitch Duncan told reporters.

"We want to keep power and speed on the game and for them, that's just the role that they played and I think it's been a bit of a rotation policy throughout the whole year.

"So I'm not sure if we'll see it again or not, we may, and I think it's great because it gives so much opportunity for other people as well and we're not just relying on several individuals.

"We've got a great group at the minute. Everyone's playing their role and contributing to the side which has, I think, propelled us back to the top.

"... Those guys aren't going to be around here forever so we do have to start giving people opportunities."

Duncan has delighted in Tom Atkins' midfield breakout season, the emergence of Sam De Koning and Zach Guthrie down back and small forward Tyson Stengle's unexpected impact.

All four players are poised to play key roles in Friday night's preliminary final against Brisbane at the MCG.

"Probably from day one of this pre-season, we had a lot of change. From coaching and staff, players, a bit of a blank canvas," Duncan said.

"We kind of changed the way we played, which is refreshing as well.

"There's been a lot of factors that have helped refresh the group and probably a big part of why we're here at the minute."

Duncan was a substitute the last time Geelong triumphed on the big stage, back in 2011.

Eleven years on, with three kids in tow, the 31-year-old admitted he'd appreciate a second flag more.

"Back then, you probably just take it for granted. You're so young and all you want to do is play footy," he said.

"So the meaning of probably winning another one would be a whole lot more."