Oliver Henry and Tom Hawkins celebrate a goal during the match between Geelong and Greater Western Sydney at GMHBA Stadium in round 11, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

GEELONG coach Chris Scott is adamant the Cats have the right mix of youth and experience to deliver as they attempt to bounce back from their failed premiership defence.

In 2022, the Cats defied the suggestion that their charges were too old, going on to win the premiership, before missing the finals last year.

But they have rejuvenated on the run, with Max Holmes, Tanner Bruhn, Jhye Clark, Ollie Henry and Ollie Dempsey all expected to play crucial roles this season, starting with Saturday's home game against St Kilda.

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"Hopefully it's not as binary as it's either up to the young guys to step up or it's up to our old guys to maintain their level," Scott said.

"Hopefully it's a bit harder to work out because the contribution between those cohorts kind of ebbs and flows."


Tom Hawkins (35), Zach Tuohy (34), Patrick Dangerfield (33), Rhys Stanley (33), Mitch Duncan (32), Mark Blicavs (32), Tom Stewart (31) and Jeremy Cameron (30) are all in the later stages of their careers.

But Scott was adamant his older players could continue to deliver.

"Besides their age, which is a pretty flimsy and casual assessment, I don't see any reason why those guys can't play at their best," he said.

"Tom Hawkins, I'll use as an example, I just watch him train session after session, he just doesn't miss, and he does what we ask of him. 

"We're conscious of not pushing him to his absolute limit. We'll manage him through the season, but unless people are seeing something I'm not, he just looks like his normal self to me, and we are conscious of that.

"I'm not saying we're right, necessarily, it's just the way we do things. Sometimes you look at a 29-year-old and think he's not the player he used to be. 

"I'm looking at a 35-year-old and thinking he just looks like his normal self. 

"You can kind of look at some of those guys and think 'you have to slow down at some point', but we just haven't seen those signs yet."


Scott expected Ross Lyon's Saints to bring speed and run to GMHBA Stadium.

"At the very least it's consistent," he said.

"The way they're trying to play, the way they've drafted ... it's consistent with an approach that they want to play with speed and back that outside run, and they've got some quality ball users in."

The Cats have handed a debut to 26-year-old draftee Shaun Mannagh.

Recruits Liam Henry and Riley Bonner will line up for St Kilda for the first time, while draftees Darcy Wilson and Lance Collard will debut.

Meanwhile, Scott wouldn't be drawn on reports linking the Cats to a play for Melbourne midfielder Clayton Oliver, describing them as "speculative".