Mannagh’s “quality effort”

March 15, 2024 1:45 pm in by
Shaun Mannagh celebrates a goal with Bradley Close in Geelong's Community Series win over Essendon on Friday night. (Jason Borys/Pixled Sports Media)

Chris Scott says it’s one of the best parts of the job as an AFL senior coach.

But the Geelong mentor says, ‘It’s even better’ when telling a mature-age draftee who thought their shot at the big time had passed them by that they would be making their debut. 

Scott had that conversation with Shaun Mannagh, who was drafted at 26, ahead of the Cats’ Round 1 meeting with St Kilda at GMHBA Stadium.

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“We brought him in thinking that he was a strong chance to play AFL footy straight away,” Scott said.

“But, he still needed to prove himself in our system through the pre-season.

“We’ve got pretty good availability … to force your way into our team at the moment with, really, only a couple of injuries is a quality effort.”

Mannagh has been named on a five-person bench alongside Jake Kolodjashnij, Tom Atkins, Gryan Miers, and Zach Tuohy.

One of those quintets will be Geelong’s starting substitute; however, Scott stopped short of confirming that it would be the Werribee product.

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“Maybe. But Ross (Lyon) and Corey Enright are too good for us to give them any more than we need to,” he said.

“We’ll try to make a habit of not announcing that before we have to.”

It’s not only Mannagh that Scott is looking forward to seeing run out against the Saints.

Geelong’s first pick in the 2022 National Draft, Jhye Clark, played less than a quarter at AFL level last year, while Ollie Dempsey will make just his eighth AFL appearance 

“(Clark) has really only played 20 minutes for us; he’s had a cracking pre-season, and we’re glad to get him in,” Scott said.

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“And Ollie Dempsey, as well, forcing his way into our best team is really a tribute to the pre-season they’ve had.

“We’d like to think we’ve opened up those opportunities for those guys. But it wasn’t a free pass – they needed to prove they could do it.

“We’re certainly not at a stage where we’re saying, ‘We’re just going to play young guys for the sake of it’.

“We’re picking the best team we can, and it’s a credit to those people in particular.”

Scott said leaving Shannon Neale out of the 23 was a ‘completely line ball’ decision before adding, ‘He may still play’.

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“That was a tough call, and we’re determined to get him into the team,” Scott said.

“But, as I said before, not at the expense of players having to earn it and play well.

“He has had a good pre-season and he has played well enough to justify a spot in the team.

“It just came down to a line ball call, (based) more on structure than him individually.

“I’m very confident that we will play well enough just demand his spot in the team.”

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Scott confirmed Jack Bowes’ calf complaint was minor and that he could be available for next week’s trip to Adelaide.

Veteran defender Jed Bews will play in the VFL practice match against Sandringham after being squeezed out of the 26-man squad.

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