CHRIS Scott has called on the football public to assess the age of Geelong's list through an overall distribution instead of an average in the wake of last year's veteran signings.
The Cats (25.3 years) enter 2021 as the second-oldest list in the competition behind St Kilda (25.4) but are likely to field 16 players in their best 22 who will turn 28 or older this season.
Scott's side added Isaac Smith (32) and Shaun Higgins (33), as well as soon-to-be 28-year-old Jeremy Cameron this off-season after farewelling veterans Gary Ablett, Harry Taylor and Jack Steven.
It leaves the Cats with the most players over 30 in the AFL but least in the 24-28-year bracket (six players).
But Scott is more than comfortable with where his club is placed for the future.
"I'm not going to argue with the age thing, I think we're going to hear it a fair bit," Scott told AFL.com.au as part of the 'Your Coach' series.
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"If we go well, we'll be experienced and if we go poorly, we'll be old.
"I just caution against using average age as a marker, it's a terrible marker in AFL footy.
"The distribution of age is a much better marker of age and experience. The stuff that's harder to tell from the outside is how resilient is someone like Isaac Smith or Mark Blicavs or those sorts of guys.
"The key point is having a group of 28-32 players who you can have playing any week gives you a bit of flexibility."
The Cats fielded the single oldest team (28 years, 134 days on average) in VFL/AFL history in last year's qualifying final loss to Port Adelaide in a side that included Ablett and Taylor.
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Scott said the message was simple for young players such as Jordan Clark and Sam Simpson looking to break into the Cats' best side and that no excuses would be made for others' ages.
"The unfortunate reality, if you want to look at it that way for those guys, is that the team became a little bit more difficult to break into," Scott said.
"That's not something that the football club or coaching staff should apologise for.
"We're not in the business of weakening the team so we can give opportunities to players who might be 25-35 on our list. The path for those guys and others to get into the team is really clear.
"We've always felt that we pick a team meritocratically with a slight bias to younger players. That's the slight advantage they have. If it's a 50-50 call between the 21-year-old or the 29- or 31-year-old, we have a very strong history of going with the younger ones.
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"We're very comfortable we have the core group of our team that are in their prime. Having too many good players in their prime is a good problem to have.
"The obvious next part is what does it mean to the future and succession, we're very comfortable there as well. This is a very, very thoughtful process that some really good footy people are charged with at our club."
Scott also gave an insight into the Cats' list strategy to target older players opposed to offering long-term contracts to players early in their careers.
"The old paradigm was you could either trade for the now or invest in the future through the draft. Clearly now there's a hybrid," he said.
"There's a strong argument that young players moving clubs via a trade on long-term contracts on big money are the greatest risks of all. I've probably given you a clue there to our thinking."
GEELONG'S LIST AT R1
33yo – Shaun Higgins
32yo – Joel Selwood, Tom Hawkins, Isaac Smith, Josh Jenkins
31yo – Zach Tuohy, Lachie Henderson
30yo – Patrick Dangerfield, Rhys Stanley
29yo – Mark Blicavs, Gary Rohan, Mitch Duncan, Sam Menegola
28yo – Cam Guthrie, Luke Dahlhaus, Tom Stewart