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Jump the Q: Cats reveal another debutant

Leon fumes, Higgins hype, Crows return Nat Edwards with the latest news

HUMAN wrecking-ball Quinton Narkle will become Geelong's sixth debutant of the season against the Western Bulldogs on Friday night as the Cats prepare to ring the changes.

It caps a remarkable rise for the 20-year-old West Australian who has played six VFL games after returning from a ruptured ACL in May. 

Narkle is a chance to be joined by Cameron Guthrie, Scott Selwood, Harry Taylor and Daniel Menzel, who are all in the frame to play in the AFL team after injury layoffs. 

Not even a busted lip, courtesy of a stray Tom Stewart elbow, could wipe the smile off Narkle's face after forcing his way in off an eye-catching three-goal performance in the VFL.

"It took a few games to find my bearings again but after I took a few knocks and started kicking a few goals I started to get that confidence back," Narkle said on Wednesday.

Narkle, a distant relation to WA Hall of Fame wingman Phil, will become Geelong's 37th player used this season.

"He's a really contested player, sharp with the ball (and) can play multiple roles," coach Chris Scott said on Wednesday. 

"He kicked a beautiful goal a few weeks ago, winning the ball in the D50 and taking it all the way down the ground.

"We weren't pessimistic (after the ACL) but we were prepared for him to find his feet.

"Given we do have pretty good availability now, albeit without much match conditioning into those (returning) guys, it's a really strong indication of how we rate him." 

 

Guthrie (two matches), Selwood (two) and Taylor (one) have played VFL in recent weeks, while Menzel is in the discussion to be rushed straight back for the clash at Etihad Stadium.

Scott stopped short of guaranteeing any of the four a berth against the Dogs but said all will feature in the AFL or VFL ahead of a tricky schedule. 

After Friday night, Geelong travels for consecutive Thursday night fixtures, while the VFL team plays Saturday-Sunday-Sunday, which will see several players' game time managed. 

"It's a challenge because there's a bit of a gap between our AFL program and our VFL program," Scott said. 

"We've put a lot of thought into it and (we're) really confident with our program."

Lachie Henderson (knee) will require at least one more VFL match after playing two before the bye and will be joined by Nakia Cockatoo (knee), who is set to play for the first time since round three. 

Ruckman Zac Smith (back) will return in the VFL after three weeks on the sidelines, while Stewart Crameri (eye) trained with the main group on Wednesday and will play in the twos. 

Lincoln McCarthy is one forced omission after straining his hamstring against Richmond before the bye. 

Longer term, Scott is hopeful big man Esava Ratugolea will be back running in the "next few weeks" with a view to playing again this season after breaking his ankle in round 10. 

The Cats enjoyed a four-day training camp on the Gold Coast last week in an attempt to end their horror post-bye form, having not won after a mid-season break since 2012. 

Meanwhile, former Hawthorn and Carlton player Brett Johnson has joined the Cats as performance and development manager.

Johnson was previously general manager of player development at the AFL Players' Association.

GEELONG'S FIXTURE HEADACHE

AFL – Round 15 – Friday, June 29 v Western Bulldogs
VFL – Round 13 – Saturday, June 30 v Werribee
AFL – Round 16 – Thursday, July 5 v Sydney
VFL – Round 14 – Sunday, July 8 v Frankston
AFL – Round 17 – Thursday, July 12 v Adelaide
VFL – Round 15 – Sunday, July 15 v Sandringham 

GEELONG'S DEBUTANTS 2017/18

2018

Tim Kelly – Pick 24, 2017 NAB AFL Draft
Esava Ratugolea
– Pick 43, 2016 draft 
Lachie Fogarty
– Pick 22, 2017 draft
Jack Henry
– Pick 16, 2017 NAB AFL Rookie Draft
Jamaine Jones
– Pick 48, 2017 rookie draft
Quinton Narkle
– Pick 60, 2016 draft

2017

Tom Stewart – Pick 40, 2016 draft
Brandan Parfitt
– Pick 26, 2016 draft
James Parsons
– Pick 27, 2015 rookie draft
Zach Guthrie
– Pick 33, 2017 rookie draft
Jordan Cunico
– Pick 59, 2014 draft
Wylie Buzza
– Pick 69, 2015 draft
Sam Simpson
– Pick 53, 2017 rookie draft
Mark O'Connor
– Category B rookie selection, 2016