Geelong’s rash of pre-season injuries will give AFL star Jimmy Bartel a more sustained chance to show his forward-line prowess.
One of the league’s strongest overhead marks will spend plenty of time in attack this year.
Injuries to Nathan Vardy, Allen Christensen and Steven Motlop have hurt the Cats’ scoring options.
Bartel plays his 250th game in Thursday night’s round-one match against Adelaide at Simonds Stadium.
While the 2007 Brownlow medallist has made his name in the midfield and more recently across half-back, he has also kicked 164 goals.
He famously kicked the winning behind against Hawthorn in 2009, and his three goals helped Bartel win the Norm Smith Medal as best afield in the 2011 grand final win over Collingwood.
“I know it’s going to be hard and a new challenge, but I’m excited by it,” Bartel said.
“We’ve got to help out big Hawk (Tom Hawkins) as much as we can.
“We can’t rely on him to kick us a winning score the whole time.
“Probably with a few of our half-forward types being injured early in the year, I’ve got to step up and do as much as I can there.”
This has already been a year of significant change for the 30-year-old, a three-time premiership player.
He stepped down from Geelong’s leadership group after seven years, making way for Harry Taylor, and has joined the AFL Players Association board.
“We’re in a fortunate position where we’ve got some great leaders at the club, but also some emerging young ones,” Bartel said.
“You’ve got to give them some responsibility and a chance to step up.
“I’ve said it before, I will still have my opinion where I feel it’s needed and if it’s ever asked for.
“I feel pretty comfortable with my decision.”
Bartel added that captain Joel Selwood should be fit for Thursday night’s match after suffering a slight hamstring injury during the pre-season.
“He’s flying around out there,” Bartel said.
“He’s nice and grumpy out on the training track, as you want your captain, but he’s going really well.
“He’s fully fit.”