Corey can't wait

NO SECOND PRIZE: Joel Corey wants a flag with the Cats. Photo: MIKE DUGDALE

Thursday, Feb. 13

WITH a core group of young players coming through, Geelong has made a premiership in 2004 its aim.

But for Joel Corey, anything less than a real crack at a flag in 2003 would be unacceptable.

The emerging midfield star said he believed the Cats had the talent to really push the top teams and would build on the disappointment of being edged out of competing in last year's finals.

``As a club we were pretty disappointed,'' Corey said of missing the 2002 finals series.

``We thought we were good enough to be there.

``Playing finals football is what it's all about and I have never played in a final, a lot of the boys haven't.

``We know we dropped a few games towards the end of the year and we can't blame anybody else, and we've learned from that.

``We've got expectations and we think we can do well this year. If we were to miss the finals again it would be well below our own expectations, so we're determined to get there.''

In fact, Corey was forced to watch from the sidelines as the Cats dropped a round 22 match which took their finals fate out of their hands.

A week earlier he was on the receiving end of a Michael Voss bump, the resulting shoulder injury cutting short an otherwise outstanding season.

While he said there was no point in contemplating what might have been had he lined up for the vital match, he was determined to make amends in 2003.

``I was a bit limited in what I could do,'' he said.

``But since Christmas I have started back doing contact work and it's feeling really good. I can't wait for the season to come around now.''

Corey, who will celebrate his 21st birthday on Monday, became a valuable link in the Geelong line-up in 2002.

He was among the club's top possession-getters and polled a credible nine Brownlow votes.

``Last year was good, I improved in one season more than I expected to,'' Corey said of his 2002 form.

``I've got plenty of improvement left, though. I want to continue what I was doing last year and even try to take on a bigger role. We've got a young midfield and I want to become one of the leaders.''

Corey's self-expectations support the club's emphasis on youth, which was underlined when Ben Graham was replaced as captain by Steven King last month.

And the young midfielder puts himself among a host of young Cats expected to take Geelong to a finals berth this year under King's captaincy.

``I didn't think Ben was doing a bad job but I don't mind Kingy taking over either,'' he said. ``Hopefully, Ben will be back to his best without the pressure of the captaincy, and Kingy will really take to it.

``I think if (Kent) Kingsley and (Cameron) Mooney step up a bit more they will be able to put the score on the board for us.

``If (Cameron) Ling and King continue what they were doing and blokes like (James) Bartel and (James) Kelly keep coming through, everything is looking pretty good.

``We would be happy with blokes performing across the board and I think we'll get that, with so many blokes coming through there's pressure on everyone to keep their spot. That can only be a good thing.''