Nigel Lappin and Patrick Dangerfield during a Geelong training session at Deakin University in 2017. Picture: AFL Photos

LONG-TIME Geelong assistant coach Nigel Lappin will run the Cats' development program in 2024, following an off-season of changes to the football department at Kardinia Park.

The 47-year-old has replaced Matt Egan in the role after the former Cat moved to the Western Bulldogs as coaching and performance manager during the off-season. 

Lappin joined Geelong at the end of 2008 after calling time on his 279-game Hall of Fame career in Brisbane, where the champion midfielder played an integral role in the three-peat under Leigh Matthews. 

The four-time All-Australian has coached the midfield and worked in development during his 15 seasons at the Cats, where he has been involved in three premierships as a coach – 2009, 2011 and 2022. 

As head of development at GMHBA Stadium, Lappin will oversee a department that includes VFL coach Mark Corrigan and development coach Aaron Black. 

New Geelong head of football Andrew Mackie was active during his first off-season in the role following Simon Lloyd's transition to GM of commercial projects, where he will work more closely with CEO Steve Hocking at the other end of the building. 

The Cats lured two highly rated assistant coaches – James Rahilly and Steven King – back to the club to work under two-time premiership coach Chris Scott, following the departure of Shaun Grigg to Gold Coast after four seasons at GMHBA Stadium. 

Life member Rahilly returned to Geelong following three seasons at Adelaide, where the 44-year-old coached the Crows' forward line and was named the 2023 AFL Coaches Association assistant coach of the year. 

James Rahilly during the match between Adelaide and GWS on July 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Cats then signed former captain King as an assistant coach, after the 2007 premiership ruckman spent the past two years as Stuart Dew's senior assistant at Gold Coast, following a decade in the football department at the Western Bulldogs. 

With Mackie combining his role as head of football and list manager, in a similar move to Jason McCartney at Greater Western Sydney and Graham Wright at Collingwood, the Cats have promoted salary cap specialist Simon Murphy to head of football projects and total player payments, after promoting Brett Johnson to assistant GM at the end of last season. 

Murphy moved from AFL headquarters to Geelong at the end of 2018 where he has climbed the ranks in the football operations and list management departments across the past five years down the highway. 

Shane O'Bree has now transitioned out of the coaching department and into the recruiting team full-time alongside Stephen Wells and Liam Woodland, after beginning that move in 2023, relinquishing his gameday role on the bench. 

Former Geelong, Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne midfielder-forward Shaun Higgins has returned to the club where he finished his 260-game career in a part-time capacity, replacing O'Bree in the role. 

Shaun Higgins in action during the round seven clash between Geelong and Fremantle at GMHBA Stadium on April 30, 2022. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Geelong lost AFLW icon Daisy Pearce as its AFL development coach in December after the Melbourne premiership captain was appointed West Coast's AFLW senior coach.

Pearce had joined the Cats on a four-year deal in February last year as part of the AFL's women's coaching acceleration program, which is designed to promote and fast track the development of female coaches, with the AFL co-funding and providing soft cap exemptions. The Cats are yet to replace Pearce.

Geelong will ramp up its preparations for round one when they face Carlton in a practice match at Ikon Park on February 22, before hosting Essendon in the AFL Community Series at GMHBA Stadium on March 1.