Home » The Cats’ ruck ‘liability’ that shocked Bartel

The Cats’ ruck ‘liability’ that shocked Bartel

Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel has admitted that he, along with the Cats, are shocked at the rapid decline of veteran ruckman Rhys Stanley.

The Cats coughed up a five goal lead to go down to Sydney by 30 points at the SCG on Sunday, with Swans ruckman Brodie Grundy dominating.

Grundy had 24 disposals and acted as another key midfield cog for the Swans, alongside Errol Gulden (37 touches), Isaac Heeney (26 disposals) and Chad Warner (26 disposals).

RECAP: NRL Round 14 Sunday

READ MORE: Inside UFC champ’s surprise Aussie preparation

READ MORE: Slater reveals major concern with ‘sickening’ Walsh hit

His rucking opponent, Stanley, managed just eight touches in the Cats’ fifth loss of 2024.

It rings serious alarm bells for the 2022 premiers, who have been unable to get Stanley to recreate his career-best form that helped Geelong to that very flag two season ago against Sydney.

Brodie Grundy and Rhys Stanley. via Getty Images

Now, Bartel has opened up on the shock that Stanley has regressed.

“I think even the Cats are surprised how quick the ruck drop off has been,” Bartel said on Nine’s Footy Furnace on Sunday night.

“It’s been a liability.

“I think they were hoping he could carry the ruck for a year, and then Toby Conway steps in to be the number one ruck.”

Rhys Stanley is a 2022 premiership ruckman.

Chris Scott and Stanley. AFL Photos via Getty Images

Australian football legend Leigh Matthews echoed Bartel’s concerns.

“That is an ongoing problem for the (Cats),” he said.

“Every now and then they overcome it and they hide that achilles heel, but (against Sydney) it was just exposed, as it is quite often.”

So what’s the fix for the Cats?

Bartel is fearful they’ve got no one else to shuffle in to the ruck, unless they take one of their best defenders out of position.

“I don’t think they’ve got any other option,” he said.

“Unless you just played Mark Blicavs as the one-out ruck and just concede that, ‘we’re not going to win the ruck anyway, at least we can get some other things at ground level’.”

Chris Scott

Chris Scott defended Stanley post match. via Getty Images

Meantime, Matthews is convinced the Cats can’t win the flag this season, considering they don’t have a ruck stock like the Swans, Essendon or Carlton.

“You watch the game (Essendon vs Carlton) and Todd Goldstein was there for Essendon (as their number one ruckman) and you wonder, have the (Cats) for right now, got a journeyman ruckman that can be more competitive than Rhys Stanley is on a lot of occassions,” he said.

“I don’t think they can win it. They need Patrick Dangerfield from injury in career-best form.

“I’m not quite sure Paddy’s got that high a level in him.”