TOM Atkins isn’t getting too caught up in the discussion about a potential Round 1 debut, instead focusing his attention to Geelong’s second JLT Series match against Essendon on Thursday night.
The 23-year-old, who the Cats grabbed with pick No.11 in the Rookie Draft, was a solid performer in the loss to West Coast in Perth last Friday with 14 disposals and laying a team-high seven tackles.
“Last week was not too bad. There are always things to work on, which is good,” Atkins said.
“We’ve already looked at them, and there’s stuff I can do on Thursday that might also help that.
“But, it’s still too hard to say at this stage (whether he’ll play Round 1). Our forward line’s really competitive with the new names that have been brought in and the existing players.
“I hope I’ve put my name up, but I’m not too sure.”
The former Geelong VFL captain says his transitions into the AFL program has been”seamless”, allowing him to focus on making improvements to his game, both on and off-field.
“Definitely my running capacity and stuff around the professionalism and that sort of thing with nutrition, and the endurance and the weights being in the full-time system,” Atkins said.
“It’s a lot easier to improve yourself in that area.
“In terms of football, we’ve been working a lot on running and those skills off-ball, rather than when I’ve actually got the ball in my hand or if I’m chasing.”
Veteran great Gary Ablett, who is set to spend more time inside the Geelong forward 50 in 2019, has been an influence on Atkins.
“You’ve just got to watch him go about it and there’s stuff you can pick up,” Atkins said. “He’s still definitely got those skills that made him great when he was at his peak.
“For me, being side-by-side with him in the forward line’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 that I can actually practise myself too much, but it’s good to watch.”