Slade wins senior spot

Saturday, August 10

GEELONG rookie Will Slade will get his first taste of senior football after being named in the side to tackle St Kilda tomorrow.

The 18-year-old former Oakleigh Charger is Geelong's ninth first-year player and third rookie to receive a call up to the seniors this year.

A competitive snow-boarder at an international level, Slade has put that behind him to concentrate on his football after being drafted.

Troubled by shin problems early in the year, Slade missed about two months of football but since returning has been one of Geelong's best in the Cats top of the ladder VFL side.

A quick and agile running defender, Slade is expected to get the job on St Kilda's dangerous small forward Stephen Milne.

``The things we like about him is his athleticism and competitveness,'' football manager Garry Davidson said.

``He's going to be in the mix of what we do to negate Stephen Milne.

``He's got the opportunity to go back as a defender or we can fit him into the midfield as part of what we do there also.

``He is a good young player and our ninth debutant for the year which augurs well for the future in terms of how we're developing the team.''

For Slade, just making it into the senior ranks is a honour.

``I'm very proud,'' he said. ``It is a great honour to be recognised in a team where there are so many talented footballers.''

He is the third rookie the Cats have promoted this year, behind Jarad Rooke and Paul Chambers.

Ron Watt, coach of Geelong's VFL side, said the blond-haired Slade had earned the respect of teammates by guaranteeing a contest every time he went near the ball.

``Will only played one game with us in the first half of the season, but has played eight or so games with us since and has showed that he has huge aerobic ability,'' Watt said.

``He's made good progress after such an injury interrupted year. He's been one of our best players, spending most of his time in defence but also having a run in the midfield.''

Watt said Slade should develop into a solidly built defender, although at about 181cm at this stage he was not tall enough to take a key position. ``He is more a small backman type who will give a contest every time he goes near the ball,'' Watt said.