Zach Guthrie relishing AFL breakout

·2-min read

Growing up with three older brothers, Zach Guthrie learned pretty quickly how to take his fair share of full-body hits.

In the Guthrie household, backyard wrestling took centre stage long before dreams of playing AFL turned into reality.

As the youngest, Zach copped the full brunt.

"There's always scuffles, being brothers," the Geelong defender told AAP.

"We were always playing in the backyard and WWE was big for us growing up, so I was always the smallest one copping the body slams and that sort of thing.

"But we've always been really tight and we've got a really good bond."

Those hard hits and that bond have helped Zach manoeuvre through a vastly different AFL journey to older brother Cam.

Cam Guthrie has long been one of Geelong's first-picked, but skinny defender Zach had played just 33 AFL games across five seasons before this year.

So Zach, now 24, built up his strength and set his sights on a breakout season.

"I'd just been really keen to try and lock away a position and try and contribute to the team," he said.

"You do get to that point in your career where you feel like you have to start making an impact."

Guthrie's 2022 started with bouncing between the AFL and VFL until he broke back into the team for round eight.

A career-best performance against GWS, where Guthrie took 12 marks, collected 23 disposals and kicked a goal, followed.

He hasn't missed a game since.

"That was probably good to just develop a little bit of confidence. I felt I could almost get my foot in the door a little bit there," he said.

"Everyone wants to be playing every week, but sometimes you've just got to bide your time and keep working away in the background and it takes people a little bit longer.

"I'm glad I stuck at it."

He might still be in his big brother's shadow, but the younger Guthrie isn't fazed, especially with Friday's preliminary final against Brisbane at the MCG looming.

"I've been really proud of what (Cam has) been able to do in his career so far, and there's been plenty of learnings that I've taken out of that and he's been a huge help for me," he said.

"I probably wouldn't be at this point if I didn't have him in my corner.

"I see it as a positive. We're pretty lucky to be playing in a prelim this week as brothers and we're really excited by that prospect."