Geelong co-captain Tom Stewart has singled out three Cats who could lead the club when his time in charge is up.
Stewart and co-captain Patrick Dangerfield were designated earlier this year as the successors to Joel Selwood and are hitting their stride as a leading duo.
But with 33-year-old Dangerfield and Stewart also on the wrong end of 30, the pair won’t lead the Cats forever.
speaking to SEN Breakfast In the wake of a fourth successive Geelong win, Stewart was asked about the next generation of leaders given the club’s seniority list.
“I think there are probably three or four that I’m really strong with,” the four-time All-Australian replied.
First on the list was Jack Henry, who is currently sidelined with a foot injury. The 25-year-old is in his seventh season at the club and has established himself in Chris Scott’s side as an intercepting defender and more recently as a forward.
“He’s not playing right now, but Jack Henry has really grown in that space. He came in as a rookie and had a different path, but the way he jogs, he’s not the loudest guy and he’s not the first to speak, but when he does speak, his words carry a lot of weight.” Stewart. explained.
“He’s someone I really respect and he’s someone I’m obviously close to playing on the back line with.”
Max Holmes, who is coming off 22 disposals and five coaches’ votes against Adelaide, also earned a mention.
“I think Max Holmes is really developing in that space. He came a little late to football and this form on the pitch is really starting to show the type of player he’s going to be,” Stewart continued.
“It’s also influencing the way he leads the group. As we saw at the weekend, being on your feet in the big moments and playing some really consistent football.”
The final mention went to former VFL captain Tom Atkins.
Picked up from the reserves by Geelong in the 2018 rookie draft, Atkins has developed a knack for getting to his feet with the game on the line in his 90-game career.
Given his leading-from-the-front style and leadership experience, Atkins could complete a football-type rags-to-riches story if he ever succeeds Stewart.
“I think a different option, a little bit left field, is maybe Tom Atkins,” Stewart added.
“He was a strong leader through local football and then captained our VFL club for a number of years, so he’s someone who knows exactly who he is and isn’t afraid to speak up and say the right things.
“I think that’s something that can’t be underestimated.”
Stewart also paid tribute to the likes of Mark Blicavs, Tom Hawkins, Cam Guthrie and several others for their help in helping himself and Dangerfield transition into the new roles, a transition he described as seamless.
The Cats began the season by losing the first three after a remarkable winning streak to claim the flag last year, setting off alarm bells for Cats fans across the country.
But Chris Scott’s side have since bounced back and are among the prime minister’s favorites once again. A Friday night clash against Richmond presents the Cats with an opportunity to announce on the biggest stage that they are well and truly back.