Surprise attack

Monday, June 3

THE lack of a regular centre half-forward could work in Geelong's favour, according to Tom Harley, who, on Saturday, became the third Cats defender in two weeks to be given a stint in the forward line.

Harley, who started the match against Melbourne at full-forward, said such versatility could give Geelong an element of unpredictability, which in turn could catch opposition teams off-guard.

The surprise move followed captain Ben Graham's conversion to attack this year, and full back Matthew Scarlett's run up forward against the Western Bulldogs in round nine.

The positional changes have come with varying degrees of success and Harley, who had three shots on goal within the first 20 minutes of Saturday's match, said it would only be a bit of fine tuning before the Cats establish a decided advantage.

``If we can get that uncertainty element involved - I don't think Melbourne would have expected me to line up forward at the start - it could work to our favour,'' he said.

The man behind the moves, coach Mark Thompson, said he was pleased with how his latest ploy came off and said he still had plenty of tricks up his sleeve.

``Tom is probably one of the best marks at the club, so there's no reason why he can't play forward,'' Thompson said.

``We thought he just came out and met the ball, and he took it, he looked like he was quick. He's just got a bit of work to do on his kicking.

``I thought if it didn't work with Tom we could have maybe thrown Darren Milburn down there for a little while, Matthew Scarlett was going to be a chance and even Steven King.

``I was pretty happy with how it worked out, but there were other plans in place that we were going to put in.''

Thompson said the decision to put Harley, who, prior to Saturday's match, had only four AFL goals to his name, came about because of Graham's indifferent recent form.

The Cats skipper returned to the more familiar territory of defence.

``He (Graham) hasn't been playing that well and I just thought if that's what he wants to do. We were just doing everything we possibly can to get him playing good footy, that's what it got down to,'' Thompson said.

``All I wanted to do was make sure we gave him every chance to play the footy that he's capable of playing.''

But Thompson said Graham was unlikely to remain in defence for too long, while Harley looked set to return to the backline, despite enjoying his run forward.

``I'd played a little bit in the forward line when I was younger, so it was good fun to have the ball kicked to you instead of your opponent,'' Harley said.

``The guys were great, they gave it to me early, so yeah, I really enjoyed it.''

And after kicking one goal, two points and an out-of-bounds on the full, Harley said he would practice his goal kicking in case the opportunity to play forward came his way again.

``I don't know whether it was just a one-off thing but I think just in case, I'd better get out there and have a practice,'' he said.