Geelong under fire over 'real problems' as 'damning' vision comes to light

The reigning premiers' motivation has been questioned after Carlton ran roughshod over the Cats.

Geelong players react after the loss to Carlton on the left, with a screenshot highlighting Carlton players outrunning their opponents on the right.
Geelong were exposed several times by the Blues in their loss on Friday night, with Carlton players frequently getting well ahead of their opponents. PIctures: Getty Images/Fox Footy

Geelong's motivation has been questioned following their round two loss to Carlton, with the reigning AFL premiers losing their first two matches of the season for the first time since they last missed the finals. The Cats made a brave attempt at a second half comeback against the Blues but fell short - with some declaring the Cats 'vulnerable' as a result.

After their stirring premiership victory in 2022, the Cats have endured an injury-riddled start to their campaign this season. However few expected the reigning premiers to be 0-2 after two rounds, and AFL great David King believes a lack of motivation could be the reason.

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In analysing footage from Thursday night's clash with Carlton, King said there had been several occasions in the match where the Blues had simply worked harder to get more numbers around the ball. “You have to question, is it effort or motivation or is it a lack of fitness and preparation?” he said.

He and Fox Footy co-host Jason Dunstall showed a series of clips showing the Blues simply beating the Cats to the contest on several occasions - both pushing forward and getting back. King suggested part of the early season struggles could be to do with the absence of former skipper Joel Selwood, who retired after their grand final win over Sydney.

Former St Kilda midfielder Leigh Montagna said that while it was early in the season and Geelong did have some valid reasons for not being at their best, the loss was certainly enough to spark 'concerns'. The last time Geelong lost their first two games of the season was in 2015, the only season under Chris Scott in which the team has missed the top eight.

“It might be a little bit of everything, just a tiny bit of the motivation that they’ve had in previous years not quite there. Certainly a little bit of a mini pre-season, not as big as other years,” he said.

“Maybe age is starting to catch up with a few of them. It might just be little things in a bit of everything, but we’ve seen enough in two games to say there are some slight concerns there.”

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The trio discussed several moments in the game in which the Cats were simply outworked by the Blues, who were determined not to lose after establishing a three-goal lead at three-quarter time. Carlton had lost their previous three matches in a row after forfeiting double-digit leads.

However this time they held firm despite a hard charge from the Cats late, driven by Jeremy Cameron's six-goal haul. They were aided, Dunstall said, but an uncharacteristic lack of effort from the Cats.

“At the other end, this is where the real problems are and this is what highlighted to me the depth of trouble the Cats are,” Dunstall said regarding one clip, showing multiple Carlton players streaming ahead of their Geelong opponents. “You talk workrate … look at the numbers there. It’s frightening.

Geelong players walk off the MCG after their loss to Carlton.
Geelong have been described as 'vulnerable' after dropping their first two games of the 2023 AFL season. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images) (AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"There are nine Carlton players inside the attacking 50 to five Geelong players and two sitting outside with their hands on their hips. That to me is as un-Geelong like as anything we’ve seen in the last 10 years.”

King was in agreement, saying the Cats had been 'hard to watch' at times on Thursday night. They'll get another chance to get on the winner's list when they travel to face the Gold Coast Suns in round three.

“We saw Carlton break away with ease from traffic quite regularly, particularly that third quarter. It was hard to watch,” King said.

“If you didn’t have the ultimate faith in the Geelong footy club, you’d get off pretty quick. But they’ve been an organisation that’s been able to rally and fight. But they’ve got a challenge on their hands.”

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