GEELONG coach Chris Scott says suspending Steven Motlop and ruling out concussed Jimmy Bartel were the right calls, despite the 44-point thumping at the hands of Fremantle on Sunday.
The Cats sorely missed the two midfielders in the loss, but Scott said the players' response to the 0-2 start would be a good test for the club.
Scott said the club needed to make a strong statement after Motlop was seen drinking in public days ahead of the Easter Monday clash against Hawthorn.
"I'm still bitterly disappointed right now and the loss hurts, but give me that decision over 100 times we'd make the same one 100 times," Scott said.
He said Motlop's positive response to his dumping had to be maintained if he were to face Gold Coast in round three.
"Motlop still has to prove to us, and he's done a very good job over the last couple of days of proving to us he's going to respond the right way, but he's got to continue to do that before he comes back into the team," Scott said.
He said that although Bartel passed all the concussion tests required by the AFL after hitting his head on the ground when tackled in the last minute of the game against the Hawks, the club refused to put his welfare at risk.
"We were really clear with Jimmy that if there is any doubt that your welfare could be put in harm's way then you're not going to play, and again we stand by that decision really strongly."
Even accounting for the duo's absence, Scott was under no illusion about the Cats' midfield.
"It's two weeks in a row we've played really top-line midfields, and right at the moment we're not as good as they are," Scott said.
"We need to have a really good think about … the mix of players we have in there, how we coach them, and how we adjust."
The Cats were thrashed outside the contest, putting their defence under pressure and creating too few opportunities for their forwards.
Their tackling pressure was good but they were not able to manufacture enough clean forward entries to worry the Dockers.
"There's a big gap between us and the best teams right at the moment," Scott said.
"We need to focus on where we're at right now and improve our game, and over time, bridge that gap."
Scott would not use inexperience as an excuse although the Cats appear to be a team in transition.
He said everyone at the club was impatient for the team to jel as a unit and every effort was being made to fast track that process.
"We're struggling a little bit to start the season," Scott said.
"That's put us on the back foot, no doubt about that."
He said the team was nowhere near playing his best football and he believed the club's character would allow them to turn the situation around.
"There are challenges within your career and I believe that's the test of the individual, it's the test of the team ethos and it's the test of us as a club," Scott said.
"It's going to be good for our future if we respond the right way, and I'm really confident we will."