Proof Geelong’s bizarre AFL finals selection call left its defence in disarray

Dual premiership Kangaroo David King has exposed why Geelong’s decision to make Mark Blicavs its No. 1 ruck for the qualifying final against Collingwood was a poor mistake, highlighting how lost the Cats’ backline was without the gun full-back.

King doubled down on his strong comments that coach Chris Scott cost the Cats the qualifying final by sensationally dropping Rhys Stanley and putting all the ruck responsibility on Blicavs and Esava Ratugolea.

Without Blicavs in defence, the Cats looked rattled at the start of the game, conceding seven of the first eight goals of the game as the Pies’ dynamic forward line ran amok.

It led to King profiling on Fox Footy’s AFL 360 what the Cats missed when Blicavs was taken out of the defensive 50.

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Blicavs' true value revealed

Blicavs’ true value revealed

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King showed behind-the-goals footage from Geelong’s Round 20 clash against Fremantle in Perth where Blicavs was clearly the chief organiser of the back 50.

In the vision as the Dockers switch the ball across half-forward, Blicavs is seen pointing and instructing his teammates to cover opponents and/or space while he drops back to remain a loose man, ensuring no easy kicks for the Dockers inside 50.

Mark Blicavs proves he's the organiser down back.
Mark Blicavs proves he’s the organiser down back.Source: FOX SPORTS

Eventually, Blicavs puts himself in the perfect defensive position, reading David Mundy’s kick inside 50 superbly and taking an easy intercept mark.

“He’s moved five blokes — and that’s absolute gridlock,” King told AFL 360.

“That’s what you get when he’s there. It’s the organisation, not just the player.”

Then King contrasted the footage from the Fremantle game with how the Cats’ defence held up against Collingwood in the qualifying final.

Geelong's defensive set-up without Mark Blicavs.
Geelong’s defensive set-up without Mark Blicavs.Source: FOX SPORTS

With Blicavs in the ruck, Jake Kolodjashnij is the designated loose man in defence for Geelong at the start of the game.

As the Magpies move the ball forward, Kolodjashnij isn’t communicating with his fellow defenders about which players and what space to guard. Ultimately, he drops back to be the deepest Geelong backman, leaving a mountain of space for Pies forward Jamie Elliott to lead into and take an easy uncontested mark.

David King highlights just how much the Cats missed Mark Blicavs down back.
David King highlights just how much the Cats missed Mark Blicavs down back.Source: FOX SPORTS

“Where are they guarding? Where’s the instruction? Where’s the roll-up to get in front of that leading lane?” King asked.

“It’s not there — and look what happens. There’s an acre free, prime real estate in the middle of Jolimont right up the corridor.

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“It’s about organisation. It’s not necessarily about what one person does.

“It’s not six one-on-ones. It’s six v six. So that’s what we talk about when we talk about what you’re missing — and that’s why you’re 7.4 to 1.4 down 45 minutes into the game.

“Time again, I’m sure there’s different decisions made, but that organiser is so important to what you do down back. He makes lesser players more valuable — it’s as simple as that.”

Mark Blicavs rucked against Brodie Grundy.
Mark Blicavs rucked against Brodie Grundy.Source: AAP

AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson put to King that his comments were seen by some at Geelong as a personal attack on Scott.

King refuted that suggestion but doubled down on his opinion, saying Scott often tries to win games from the coaches’ box.

“If you’re going to gamble in a first final … I guarantee you if they get rolled this week, your (Robinson’s) first article will be about straight sets and the problem of what that does for 2020 and where to from here for Chris,” King said.

“So why is not a rational discussion now? There’s nothing personal about it, we talked about that game in insolation.”

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