HARLEY RE-SIGNS WITH THE CATS
B Jensen January 29 2004
FANTASTIC NEWS from Skilled Stadium this week, with the news that star centre half back Tom Harley has 'reached agreement' on a new contract. Harley, 25, is due to play his 100th AFL game and 100th for Geelong in season 2004, which is now less than two months away. The Cats open the season against St Kilda at the Telstra Dome on Saturday (Night), 27th March.
Harley, along with Matthew Scarlett, has been the mainstay of the Geelong backline for the past few seasons. Many believe that had he not missed the first six rounds of 2003, Harley would have made the All Australian team ahead of Scarlett. He averaged about 15 possessions a game, but more importantly, conceded about one goal a game to his direct opponent. His relaxed appearance may give the impression he is merely going through the motions to the untrained eye, but all Geelong fans know that Harley is one of the mainstays of the team.
Speaking to radio station 3AW yesterday, Harley said he considered himself 'reasonably intelligent', and is prepared to step up his promotion work for the club, 'in the media'. But Harley conceded that to build its profile, Geelong needs to start winning games. Describing last year's start to the season as 'a disaster', Harley will be champing at the bit to be there in Round One to ensure that does not happen this season.
With the 'back six' worked out, the Cats need the rest of the team to pick up the slack, if they are to have any chance of making the eight in 2004. The forward line, popularly believed to be the weakest link, may just benefit from improved delivery from the midfield. Although talented, the current on-ballers have not helped their struggling forward teamates. Guidance from new coaching staff in Darren Cresswell, Andrew Bews and Ken Hinkley should see improvement in this area.
Tom Harley makes yet another clearance, against the Swans in Round 8, 2003.