Coach lauds Scarlett ahead of milestone - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Coach lauds Scarlett ahead of milestone

Leonard Siragusa 29/07/2008 09:21:25 PM Comments (0)

Geelong coach Mark Thompson is in awe of Matthew Scarlett's ability to launch attacks from defence, believing the All-Australian fullback has set a benchmark few would be able to match.

Scarlett, 29, who will play his 200th game on Saturday night against Richmond, is the key figure to the Cats much-heralded backline.

Scarlett usually takes on the opposition's best forward but his run and rebound makes him a dangerous weapon to counter.

"He's an awesome player," Thompson said.

"I've never really seen a defender play the way he has, and he's probably made it a little bit harder for the modern defender of the future trying to play like him."

After a consistent year in 2007 culminating in a brilliant 29-possession performance in the Grand Final against Port Adelaide, Scarlett is having another impressive year.

The three-time All-Australian averages 16 possessions a game this season, including 32 a fortnight ago against the Western Bulldogs.

His pro-active and creative game exposed St .Kilda's Fraser Gehrig in round four and Sydney's Michael O'Loughlin in the following round.

Former North Melbourne champion Glenn Archer then provoked much debate when he claimed Scarlett had overtaken former Carlton great and the VFL/AFL's full-back of the century - Steven Silvagni - as the best full-back to have played the game.

Scarlett admitted prior to the Hall of Fame Tribute match that he was in the best form of his career but Thompson believed Scarlett's attacking style went far beyond what he thought he was capable of producing as a defender.

"He's certainly taken it as far as we could possibly have ever imagined it could have been taken," he said.

"I would never have thought he would ever have got up to 30 possessions in a game of footy like he has at times."

Thompson also credited a stable personal life - he's married and is a father to a second child - helped him mature as a footballer.

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