JEREMY Cameron as Geelong's panacea?

Inserting the 2019 Coleman medallist alongside 2020 Coleman medallist Tom Hawkins should give the Cats a spike in attack.

But it shouldn't paper over the cracks that have appeared elsewhere in the 2-2 – that could've easily been 0-4 – start to the season.

Chris Scott's side has been without Cameron for the opening month, with his absence from a hamstring injury likely to extend into a fifth match this weekend as the Cats tread cautiously.

Geelong recruit Jeremy Cameron ahead of the 2021 season. Picture: AFL Photos

Here's a look at the areas the Cats need to improve before Cameron's return and why the ex-Giant doesn't solve all of their problems.  


From engine room leaders to middle of the pack in the space of four games.

The Cats were statistically the best midfield in the competition last year with All-Australian Cam Guthrie and wingman Sam Menegola enjoying breakout years, Mitch Duncan firing and Brandan Parfitt taking a jump.  

The most alarming statistic for the Cats this season has been their differential in scores from stoppages – an area they won last year.  

Midfield Drop Off

2021 Avg.


2020* Avg.


Scores from Stoppages





Scores from Stoppages Diff.





Contested Possession Diff.





Clearance Diff.





 *2020 games were 25% shorter

In 2020 the Cats averaged 7.9 more points per game than their opponents from stoppages. This year they're conceding 7.8 more points on average to be ranked 14th in the competition.

It's an area where Melbourne exposed Geelong on the weekend for a comfortable 25-point win built off winning 19 more contested possessions and 10 more clearances.

Patrick Dangerfield – who has missed three of the Cats' four games – will assist when he returns this week to play predominantly as an onballer.

Patrick Dangerfield tries to tackle Ben Keays in round one. Picture: AFL Photos

But it can't be forgotten the Cats achieved their dominance last year with Dangerfield playing large chunks forward and also lost the midfield battle to the Crows in round one with the Brownlow medallist in there.  


One thing that could always be relied upon by Geelong in recent years was its ability to restrict opponents scoring. But not to start 2021.

Ranked the fourth, first and first defence in the previous three seasons, the Cats have dropped to ninth across the opening four rounds for scores against.

Another concern has been the ability of opposition sides to transfer the ball from their defensive 50m into their attacking 50m against the Cats. Last year the Cats allowed it to happen on just 20 per cent of occasions. This year it's been 30 per cent and has them ranked 15th in the competition.

And then when they get it in there, opposition sides are scoring from 46.6 per cent of entries. It will be a fascinating watch to see if they continue to be exposed by the new man on the mark rule.

Defensive Drop Off

2021 Avg.


2020* Avg.


Scores from Turnover





Scores from Turnover Diff.





Rebound to Inside 50 % Against





Score Against per Inside 50% 





Goal Against per Inside 50% 





 *2020 games were 25% shorter

Incredibly, despite the return to full-length quarters, the Cats are creating less points from turnovers in 2021 than they were in the reduced matches in 2020.

It's been two-goal swing in favour of their opposition this season after being ranked fourth in the competition last year for scores from turnover differential.

Time for the Cats to apply more pressure.


While the Cats have turned to different ruckmen at times through Chris Scott's reign, Rhys Stanley was the preferred option alongside Mark Blicavs during last year's finals series.

Now Stanley has dropped in every key statistical used to rate his peers.  

According to the Champion Data AFL Player Ratings, Stanley has gone from 'above average' among ruckmen in 2020 to 'below average' in 2021.

Rhys Stanley contests with Melbourne ruckman Max Gawn. Picture: AFL Photos

Stanley is winning less hitouts for his team of onballers and his hitout-to-advantage rate has also dropped. Of the biggest concern will be that almost 32 per of his total hitouts are being swooped upon by the opposition compared to just 15 per cent last season.

The athletic tall is also part of less score involvements this year compared to last. 

Rhys Stanley

2021 Avg.

2021 Rating

2020* Avg.

2020 Rating

AFL Player Ratings


Below Average


Above Average 






Score Involvements


Below Average



Hitout Win rate


Below Average



Hitout-to-advantage rate


Below Average


Below Average 

Hitout Sharked rate




Above Average 

 *2020 games were 25% shorter

No.2 ruckman Darcy Fort has started to string together matches at VFL level after a pre-season knee injury, while Esava Ratugolea is slowly building up his fitness from a fractured leg.

Both could present as options throughout the season, or will the Cats turn to Blicavs again by taking him out of defence full-time?


The Cats have plummeted from the most efficient side when entering forward 50 in 2020 to among the worst in the competition in 2021.

Last year the Cats scored from 44 per cent of inside 50 entries, and while the drop to 40 per cent this year might seem minimal, it has seen their ranking fall to 14th in the competition. 

They have also gone from the No.1 ranked team for marks inside 50 in 2020 with 10.7 per game (achieved without Cameron), to sit equal 13th with Gold Coast, producing a miserly 9.8 per game from increased minutes. 

Geelong's haphazard entries

2021 Avg.


2020* Avg.


Score per Inside 50%





Goal per Inside 50%





And while the Cats' ball speed has been queried to start the season, it's interesting to note they're actually playing on from marks more in 2021 compared to 2020. Last year it was 23.5 per cent of marks (ranked 16th). This year it's been 30.2 per cent (ranked eighth).

Cameron's return will assist the Cats with another target inside 50, but it won't necessarily ensure their kicking improves.

Plus, it will still take time for Cameron to build a connection with Tom Hawkins who has been the Cats' most targeted player inside 50 (40 times) this year, well ahead of the next best Gary Rohan (15), Jack Henry (10) and Josh Jenkins (7).

Outside of a handful of training sessions and a combined five quarters of match practice over the pre-season, the Cameron-Hawkins partnership has been left to the imagination of the Cats in 2021.