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Cat food: New forward missing his favourite fish souvlaki

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SINCE being promoted from the Geelong's VFL team to its AFL list in October last year, rookie forward Tom Atkins is missing one thing. 

Fittingly for a player who represents the Cats, it's a fish souvlaki from the local fish and chip shop.

Atkins said his diet has had to change considerably since stepping up to the elite level.

"There's a lot of takeaway in my house, I live with three other boys, so we were probably doing three or four nights of takeaway [a week]," Atkins said with a laugh. 

"The one I probably miss the most is I used to get a fish souvlaki from a fish and chip shop up the road, haven't had that for a few months."

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Atkins played his first senior game in the hoops last Friday night, coming up against reigning premier West Coast. 

The 23-year-old impressed with his pressure in the forward line, finishing with 14 disposals (at 93 per cent efficiency), four inside 50s and seven tackles. 

"Last week was not too bad, there's always things to work on, which is good. We've already looked at them, and there's stuff we can do on Thursday (against Essendon at GMHBA Stadium) that might also help that," Atkins said.

"It's still too hard to say at this stage (if he will play round one), our forward line is really competitive with obviously the new names who have been brought in and the existing players. I hope I've put my name up, but I'm not too sure." 

One of those existing players Atkins has been training alongside is champion Gary Ablett. 

"You just have to watch him go about it, you pick up [tips]. He's still obviously got those skills which made him great when he was at his peak," he said. 

"For me, being alongside him in the forward line, it's been invaluable. The thing that stands out is his quickness of decision-making, he's one, two, three steps ahead before he even gets the ball. 

"It's not something I can practice myself too much, but it's good to watch." 

 

Forward line pressure is an area the Cats are looking to improve on in 2019, and Atkins could be one to help.

"It's probably one of the main reasons I was lucky enough to get drafted," he said.

"It's definitely a facet of my game I'm putting a lot of time into and I want to make sure I continue to bring it, but there's so many other elements that go into my game and into the way we want to play, so you don't want to get too focused on the one thing."

The local, who played for Geelong Football League side St Joseph's and captained the Cats' VFL side last year at just 22, had never really considered playing AFL as a viable goal. 

"I never thought it was a realistic option, I was never in that mindset where 'it [playing AFL] is done now', it was just a bonus if it happened," Atkins said. 

"I think throughout the whole five years I was at VFL that's how I approached it, just play footy and if the team sees the need to bring you up, it was a bonus."