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Podsiadly may head back to boost Geelong defence

Peter Ryan  January 10, 2013 12:19 PM

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James Podsiadly at Geelong training. He could be used as a defender this year

He is just getting a look at playing down back at the moment
AS GEELONG looks to build versatility and depth in all parts of the ground, key forward James Podsiadly has been training with the Cats' backline group this summer.

How much time he spends in that part of the ground when the season starts remains to be seen according to Cats' full back Tom Lonergan, but the premiership defender has no doubt his teammate could do a job down there.

"He's just getting a look at both ends," Lonergan told AFL.com.au.

"Obviously he has played a lot forward, so he knows what that is about, so he is just getting a look at playing down back at the moment.

"He is one of those players that is pretty versatile, can play anywhere (and) is so strong and quick. He has got a great footy brain so I'm sure he'll adapt pretty well to playing anywhere."

Podsiadly made his name as a key forward after being a surprise recruit at the age of 28. In his three seasons at the club he has kicked 136 goals in 60 games, and played in the 2011 premiership.

His presence up forward helped the club through its transition period and also gave Tom Hawkins time to develop.

Hawkins won the club's best and fairest in 2012, after coming of age in a standout finals series in 2011.

The Cats like to give their players experience in all areas of the ground in case they are required. They used defender Harry Taylor in a forward role occasionally during 2012, and he kicked 15 goals for the season, including a six-goal haul against Greater Western Sydney.

Podsiadly kicked 35 goals in 18 games last season and was a solid contributor.

While it is too far out to predict what would happen when the season started, Lonergan did not rule out the 31-year-old Podsiadly working beside him in defence from time to time.

"He could. I'm not sure how the dynamics will work out, who knows? If it makes the team better it will be great," Lonergan said.

The retirement of Geelong's champion full back Matthew Scarlett and premiership player David Wojcinski at the end of 2012 and Darren Milburn at the end of 2011 has seen the back six lose valuable experience in recent seasons.

In 2012 Geelong finished seventh for points against, the first time since 2007 it has been out of the top four teams when it comes to conceding points.

The premiership team invariably comes from the top four teams for least points conceded.

Lonergan said the retirement of those champions meant other players had to step up and take the opportunity their absence created.

The club recruited experienced defender Jared Rivers from Melbourne during the free agency period and have high expectations for youngsters such as Cameron Guthrie (20 games) and Cam Eardley.

The 26-year-old Taylor is entering the peak of his career while Corey Enright and Josh Hunt remain reliable players down back.

Lonergan has been a consistent performer in the past two seasons and enters the year just three games short of what would be a hard earned 100 game milestone.

He is suddenly a mainstay of the defence.

But with games still a fair way off, hope remains the most reliable currency.

"We hope we can still be really competitive and be one of the best defensive groups in the League next year," Lonergan said.