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Cats move “a real blessing” for milestone man

April 12, 2024 5:00 pm in by
Geelong's Mark Blicavs. (Marcel Berens/Sports Media)

Rhys Stanley says a chat with Chris Scott in late 2014 was all that was needed to convince him his football future lay at Geelong.

Stanley was looking for a fresh start after six injury-impacted seasons at St Kilda, where he was limited to just 58 games.

But on the eve of his 200th AFL game, Stanley says a move away from the Saints wasn’t always on the cards.

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“There was, over a couple of years, sort of backend conversations, but not really,” Stanley said.

“It did kind of come out of nowhere.

“And then the move, when it did become an option, and I thought it through with the family, it made sense.

“A phone call with Scotty. That’s as good a pitch as you need, isn’t it?”

Stanley admits there were times during the early stages of his career that a milestone like 200 games appeared light years away.

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The 33-year-old’s hamstring issues were so problematic he was travelling to Germany for treatment. 

“Early days, I battled with a few injuries I couldn’t get over,” he said.

“Then, I think the move to Geelong was a real blessing. It reinvigorated my footy.

“And from that point, I probably didn’t doubt as much I’d get there.”

Stanley was quick to credit former Geelong strength and conditioning coach Chris Dennis.

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“He just got my body in shape,” Stanley said.

“And got me really strong in areas where I was weak, which has held me in good stead.”

Scott says Stanley was recruited to fill a void they had struggled to fill following Brad Ottens’ retirement at the end of 2011.

“He was a forward at St Kilda; played a little bit back as well,” Scott said. “But, we brought him specifically to be a ruckman, and he’s just been terrific value for us.

“He’s been a really good person to have around the club, and (he’s) performed well on the big stage.

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“He’s had his ups and downs, and he’s had to fight his way through.

“My observation is that he’s better for it. You don’t wish it on players, necessarily.

“But, to become a really resilient player, you need to find your way through some difficult times.”

Out of contract at the end of the season, Stanley says he’s happy – like several of his veteran teammates – to wait for discussions on an 11th season at GMHBA Stadium to start.

“We just want to play good footy and then see how our bodies are at the midway point of the year and see if the shoe fits,” he said.

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“That’ll be the thing. And going into the second half of the year is, ‘How are we going? Is the team looking like wanting us to go on?

“All those conversations will start happening”.

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