Mick Malthouse calls out Patrick Dangerfield after Geelong loss to Carlton
Geelong's new captain hasn't looked quite himself after taking over the club's captaincy.
After two losses in a row to start Geelong's season, former AFL premiership coach Mick Malthouse has raised concerns about star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield's performances. The 32-year-old has 22 possessions in both of Geelong's outings this season, with Malthouse fearing the former Brownlow Medallist may have lost a step.
Geelong were outpointed by Carlton 13.12 (90) to 12.10 (82) on Thursday night, with many AFL observers to see the reigning premiers 0-2 after their first two games. Dangerfield took over the captaincy from club great Joel Selwood this season, following his retirement after last year's grand final.
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Geelong enjoyed a strong off-season from a recruiting standpoint, with many expecting the Cats to continue to compete at the pointy end of the competition. While there's a long season for them to make up ground, some have found them less than convincing after losses to Collingwood and Carlton in the first two weeks of the season.
Malthouse was one of those casting a sceptical eye over the Cats following Thursday night's loss, the first time Geelong have lost their first two games since 2015 - a season in which they missed the finals. Malthouse told ABC Grandstand that Dangerfield had endured two 'shockers' to open the season.
“He’s had two shockers. Last week he didn’t play (well), this week he’s really struggled,” Malthouse said. “I don‘t know if it’s the expectations or leadership. He just doesn’t look like the same dynamic player.”
While it was a surprising start for many, including Geelong coach Chris Scott, he was unwilling to hit the panic button after just two weeks. Not since 2009 has the reigning premier lost their first two games of the season, with Hawthorn the last club to do so.
Injuries to key players in Tom Stewart (knee), Jack Henry (foot), Jake Kolodjashnij (concussion), Mitch Duncan (calf) and Sam Menegola (knee) have also robbed Geelong of crucial depth they're expecting to have back later in the year. Scott said the Cats retained a 'quiet confidence' and that he was unsurprised by some of the 'disjointed' footy he'd seen from his side so far.
Geelong not panicking after consecutive AFL defeats
Four of the aforementioned players will slot straight into Geelong's back six when they're healthy, another reason for Scott to be optimistic about their chances. The Cats will face the Gold Coast Suns in round three.
“We always knew that it was going to be a hard year,” Scott said. “But it’s certainly not a situation where we’re really panicking.
“Some of the disjointed manner in which we’re playing was a bit foreseeable with the shifts we’ve had, and even saying that, some of the new players that have come in, if you look at them in isolation there’s a lot to be positive with about those guys.
“We’ve come into this year with a view that we are going to be different, there are going to be some teething problems with a few things, and we’ve lost a couple of close games, but there’s still a lot to like. There’s a quiet confidence about us.
"I guess we do have extra confidence with our more experienced players that if we do get it right, that our top level is going to be hard to beat. We’re not quite there yet, we’ll work on it, but I’m probably erring more on the positive side."
Former Gold Coast midfielder Jack Bowes and debutant Cooper Whyte played their first games for the Cats, while it was ex-Collingwood forward Ollie Henry's second. Scott expects Kolodjashnij to return against Gold Coast in round three, with Duncan also on the verge of returning as the Cats look to turn their season around.
They could have further injury concerns though, with Jeremy Cameron, Rhys Stanley and Sam De Koning all "in the wars" during a hard-fought battle with the Blues. The Cats trailed by 28 points late in the third term but cut it back to a single-figure margin with plenty of time left as Jeremy Cameron booted three final-quarter majors.
Cameron finished with 6.1 from 25 disposals and took eight marks in a superb performance, but couldn't drag Geelong over the line. Carlton's first win of 2023 came after they had coughed up leads by conceding late goals in each of their previous three matches, including a pair of heartbreaking defeats that cost them a finals berth last year.
"It wasn't the monkey on our back, that's for sure. We never looked at it that way whatsoever," Blues coach Michael Voss said. "But it had to be that way, didn't it? It just had to be that way.
"We had to win really tough in the end and we got the correction we were after. You'd like to be able to put the foot down but I don't think we can be too fixated with how the finish was.
"We're pleased that we were able to absorb and in a pretty critical moment we were able to do the right things at the right time."
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