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Double barrel, rising star

Courageous Cat is a Rising Star Geelong midfielder George Horlin-Smith is the round four NAB AFL Rising Star nominee
George Horlin-Smith of thge Cats handballs during the 2013 AFL round 04 match between the Sydney Swans and the Geelong Cats at the SCG, Sydney on April 19, 2013. (Photo: Craig Golding/AFL Media)
George Horlin-Smith's fine game against the Swans has earned him a rising star nomination
GEELONG'S three premierships in recent years have been built in part on having big, strong midfielders who can get the job done when the game is at it's most ferocious.

Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Corey, Cameron Ling and others have excelled in the contested aspects of the game - and it looks as if the Cats may have found another in the same mould.

Round four NAB AFL Rising Star nominee, George Horlin–Smith, announced himself to the football world with an eye-catching performance on one of footy's biggest stages and against one of the AFL's most hardened outfits.

"It was really good for me to play against a team like Sydney early in my career on Friday night, they're really hard around the ball and so good in the contested situations," Horlin-Smith told

"The jump from VFL to AFL level is really large in that area and it gives you confidence going forward," he said.

"It was probably the most consistent four-quarter performance I've put in and its up to me to back it up now."

The 20-year-old impressed in the big win over the reigning premiers, picking up 23 possessions, including seven clearances, and kicking a goal.

His work around the stoppages opposed to Josh Kennedy and company was pivotal in the Cats' continuing their unbeaten start to the season.

"I think help from senior players like Joel Corey and Jimmy Bartel over the pre-season has really helped me develop my game," Horlin-Smith said.

"When you train against them, they teach you little tricks and they're always willing to give you advice on how to use your body in the contest."

Recruited with pick 37 in the 2010 NAB AFL National Draft, Horlin-Smith battled shoulder injuries in his first year at the club.

But 2012 proved fruitful, with him making his senior debut, claiming best on ground honors in the Geelong's VFL premiership win and finishing fifth in the League's best and fairest award.

He puts a lot of that success down to former Essendon and now Geelong VFL coach Matthew Knights.

"Knightsy has got a great relationship with our younger players, works closely with us and wants to see us improve and last year's VFL premiership is testament to his impact on the club," Horlin-Smith said.

Growing up in Adelaide, his love for finding the footy at the bottom of packs was matched by his desire to score runs on the cricket field.

A talented batsman who captained Australia at under 16 level on a tour of the West Indies, Horlin-Smith had to make the hard decision on which path to take,  much like Richmond's Brett Deledio and Carlton's Marc Murphy before him.

"It was a tough decision at the time but I'm really comfortable choosing football and I have no regrets so far," he said.

That decision to choose footy sees him loving life in Geelong and continuing the laid-back beach lifestyle he enjoyed back in the City of Churches.

"I've live with teammate George Burbury in a little place close to the club and everything is going well," he said.

"I'm really comfortable here and it's similar to Adelaide, where it's quite relaxed.

"Geelong is really a good fit and I'm just happy they gave me the opportunity."