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Cats defender eyes 'pinch-hitting' role upfield

Zach Tuohy is keen to pinch-hit in the middle this season - AFL,Geelong Cats,Zach Tuohy
Zach Tuohy is keen to pinch-hit in the middle this season

GEELONG defender Zach Tuohy's first season at his new club was widely lauded, but he believes moving further up the ground at times this season will help him become an even more powerful weapon off half-back.

After being traded from Carlton at the end of 2016, Tuohy made a seamless transition into the Cats' backline and was able to partly offset the loss of retiring great Corey Enright.

Tuohy averaged a career-high 24.6 disposals and 4.9 rebound 50s from his 25 matches and ranked third in the competition for total metres gained behind Brownlow medallist Dustin Martin and GWS backman Nathan Wilson, now with Fremantle.

"I don't see any reason to suspect that I shouldn't keep progressing," Tuohy said on Tuesday.

"The body's held up OK, which is half the battle in the AFL."

"I'm surrounded by really quality people – coaches who are exceptional coaches but were all phenomenal players, so there's no reason I shouldn't be able to keep tapping into their experiences and, hopefully, take the next step again."

At Tuesday's open session at GHMBA Stadium, 28-year-old Tuohy was working with his fellow defenders on body positioning in marking contests and holding opponents out from simulated stoppages at ground level.

Donning a backwards visor to shield the blazing sun in front of a crowd of around 500 people, Tuohy's strength and ability to hold his ground, even against taller opponents, instantly struck those watching.

Tuohy said being able to play in the midfield or on a wing would further round out his game and offer the team more flexibility.

It's conceivable to see opposition clubs put more work into stopping Tuohy off half-back in 2018, especially with the retirement of Andrew Mackie and the experienced Tom Lonergan.

"It would be nice to be able to play a few more positions than I have done in the past," Tuohy said. 

"I'll obviously stay at half-back and that's not going to change, but the ability to pinch-hit in a few different positions is a useful one, especially in today's game.

"I'll just keep improving, hopefully my strengths as well."

Tuesday's open session was predominantly a craft and skills-based session where players were broken up into two groups.

Star midfielders Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett were on light duties, while Joel Selwood did a session indoors.

Rookie recruit Stewart Crameri, coming off hip surgery while at the Western Bulldogs last year, has not yet integrated into the main group, nor has defender Lachie Henderson, who had two bouts of knee surgery prior to Christmas.

Despite those injury concerns, Geelong's availability on the track this pre-season has been much improved and, importantly, small forwards Cory Gregson (foot) and Lincoln McCarthy (groin), who were both on the sidelines for extended periods in 2017, have turned the corner in their recovery.