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Blicavs happy to take a step back as Cats hone ruck options

“I have done my whole pre-season and round one in defence, so the plan I would say is for me to play back.

“There’s always a plan B and C depending on the situation and injury, but I think plan A is me in defence. That’s been the focus in training.

“In the ruck position at the moment we’ve got Darcy Fort and Rhys Stanley, both looking good and training hard and pushing each other.”

Geelong's Rhys Stanley goes up against Hawthorn's Ben McEvoy during round 18 of the 2019 season.

Geelong’s Rhys Stanley goes up against Hawthorn’s Ben McEvoy during round 18 of the 2019 season.Credit:AAP

One of those emergency tactical moments occurred last year in the qualifying final when Geelong dropped Rhys Stanley for the game and replaced him with Sam Menegola – believing the rain would come in and the weather would play a more significant part than it eventually did.

When Stanley was dropped, Blicavs was moved to the ruck. It was a tough ask given he was opposed to Brodie Grundy, last year’s All Australian ruckman and he ended up beaten on the night.


It was a selection gamble that didn’t work but it was a narrow loss and had the rain been a factor perhaps it would have been regarded differently.

The choice of Blicavs was understandable given his athleticism, which has also seen him deployed in a variety of roles.

That athleticism was born of the fact he arrived in the game outside the normal pathway as a 1500 metre runner on the fringe of Olympic selection.

He was a Category B rookie and has gone on after 159 games, two best and fairests and two All Australian nominations to be the best-performed player to come from that stream of entry to the game.

Unsurprisingly he wants the Category B rookie system to remain and not fall victim to the changes around list sizes as the AFL works on its plan for how lists are constructed.

The continuation of the category B rookie list was raised among list managers recently and all clubs bar one strongly supported its retention.

The club representative who didn’t favour the change said he personally supported Category Bs, but knew his club would no longer be able to afford to use the list nor have the recruiting budget to search for one so he was against it.

While the regular rookie list is likely to go, the Category B route – which allows clubs to rookie list players who have not played football for at least three years or come from overseas – at this stage it looks more likely to survive.

“I have come from that background so I am an advocate for it remaining. There’s a lot of talent from other sports, especially international sports, that you can find recruits and I think we have to keep trying to bring that talent in,” Blicavs said.


“Athletes from different sports often have different way of thinking about the game.

“I am very positive about it, but it is a financial thing and so I understand they need to examine all alternatives.

“But I agree that it is actually an opportunity with the timing at the moment, especially with the Category B, because while the AFL is under financial pressure these other sports are under more pressure and players are being squeezed out.

“A lot of sports around the world are struggling financially. I know the NBL is facing tough times so I think it is an opportunity for the AFL.

“For me it’s a great pathway for some players who might not have been on the traditional route in one sport.”

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