Cats skipper Joel Selwood takes a break from cycling during the club's training camp at Falls Creek
AFTER a disappointing exit from the 2012 finals, many thought Geelong would slip further in 2013, however the early word from punters is the Cats have another flag within them.
According to one bookmaker, more money has been dumped on the Cats in the premiership market than any other team, including one bet of $10,000 at $18.
After recruiting some experienced players, plus prized youngster Josh Caddy, the Cats have been backed into $11/12 to win a fourth flag in six years.
"We opened them at $18 but they have been heavily backed since day one and are now into $12," said sportsbet.com.au spokesman Shaun Anderson.
"They have recruited well and topped up with the likes of Jarred Rivers and Hamish McIntosh. Obviously they think they are still premiership contenders and the punters agree."
Hawthorn is a short $3.50 favourite at TABSportsbet while this bookmaker has the reigning premier, the Sydney Swans, a joint second-favourite with West Coast (the latter failing to make the top four in 2012).
Anderson said the Swans were largely "friendless" in early flag betting, despite fortifying their forward line with controversial recruit Kurt Tippett.
The expected improvement of star youngsters such Dan Hannebery, Alex Johnson, Luke Parker, Craig Bird and last year's revelation, Lewis Jetta, has also been ignored by punters.
However, runner-up Hawthorn has not had much love in early flag markets either.
"Each year the Hawks are usually the best backed but maybe punters have learnt their lesson and aren't touching them," Anderson said.
Unsurprisingly, there has been money for Collingwood, but punters have also shown interest in the Pies' former coach Mick Malthouse and his new team, Carlton.
The Blues missed the finals in 2012 but are $9 to salute in 2013, a joint third-favourite with Collingwood at TAB Sportsbet.
For the first time in many a year, Richmond ($21/$26) will start the season at a shorter price to win the cup than St Kilda ($26/$34).
The Tigers are also shorter than North Melbourne ($31/$34), despite the Roos playing finals last season and the Tigers ending the year in twelfth spot with just 10 wins.
Geelong's September conqueror Fremantle is $12/$15 to taste September glory for the first time and the Bombers are $16/$17 with most bookmakers.