AUSTRALIAN RULES: Emerging Geelong big man Wylie Buzza says the rise of the pressure game in the AFL is likely to see his team experiment with its forward set-up during next month's JLT series matches.
The changing landscape of the Cats' list continued at the end of last year with veteran defenders Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan calling time on their careers, which is likely to see Harry Taylor spending less time in attack for the Cats.
It means a spot is up for grabs for the Gatton product, but he said given the way the game had evolved in the past two seasons - particularly when it came to pressure acts inside-50 - it was possible a small forward could occupy that position.
"With Harry going down back it obviously opens up a spot and it may or may not be for me - but it might not even be for someone who plays like me,” Buzza said.
"It's a new season and as we saw with Richmond last year you never know what teams are going to go with set-up wise.
"We're probably going to be the same and that's why we have those JLT games, to try to experiment with what type of set-up we want to go with.
"But I'm just trying to do everything in my power to show that I'm a good second man for Tom Hawkins and I'd love to be alongside him and the rest of the forward group at the start of the season.”
Buzza is hoping an increased fitness base will hold him in good stead this season and help him in his bid to play senior football on a consistent basis.
The 21-year-old played six matches for Geelong in 2017 but never managed more than two games in succession, with the rigours of playing at the highest level impacting on his ability to back up from week-to-week late in the season.
But a gruelling pre-season campaign has seen him improve his endurance levels. And if his ability to put in repeat efforts on the training track can be replicated on game day, Buzza is confident he can be a regular for the Cats in 2018.
"It's been solid work, as it always is, but we're just over half way through and with AFLX and JLT we've got a few things coming up to look forward to now,” he said.
"A big thing for me is trying to work on my endurance and being able to do things for longer. I can start off games fairly well but it's trying to do that for a longer period of time, so I've got to try to think of ways to work smarter and work harder to get fitter.
"There are a lot of other things to tidy up - I'd love to mark the ball a bit better and kick the ball a bit straighter - but I feel if I can get myself a bit fitter and get to a few more contests then I should be fine.”
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