Cats eye 2011 AFL flag - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats eye 2011 AFL flag

By Roger Vaughan and Greg Buckle 13/10/2010 06:54:48 PM Comments (0)

Geelong still think they can win next year's AFL premiership, despite the tumultuous events of the last month.

After losing No.1 player Gary Ablett, coach Mark Thompson and assistant coach Brendan McCartney, the Cats suffered another blow on Wednesday when two-time premiership player Max Rooke announced his retirement.

Rooke, 28, only played one senior game this season for a career total of 135.

The tough half-forward was a highly-popular player at Geelong and went to the United States this season for treatment on his knee tendinitis.

Speaking before Rooke's announcement, club chief executive Brian Cook said the Cats were upbeat about their prospects despite a tough month.

"One of the decisions we have had to make is whether we see ourselves as a realistic chance of winning a premiership next year or implementing a plan that has (a premiership) three or four years down the track as its major aim," he said.

"We still believe that we can win a premiership next year. We know we have to improve.

"But at the same time we have to put in place strategies that make sure we're very strong in three or four years' time as well."

After winning the 2007 and `09 flags, the Cats suffered a bad loss to eventual premiers Collingwood in this year's preliminary final.

Cook hinted the Cats would probably appoint someone with strong Geelong connections to take over from Thompson, who stunned the club when he decided to quit because of burnout.

"It could be desirable," Cook said.

"If you want major change, you'd probably look outside the club.

"If you just want the plan tweaked and you want someone who has an understanding of what we've done the last 10 years and an extension of that is desirable, then you go with someone internal.

"I think I've said enough, we haven't decided that - the reality is we do think we can win a premiership next year if we improve."

Former Geelong star Ken Hinkley and current Cats assistant Brenton Sanderson are candidates for the job.

Cook admitted the Cats were surprised when McCartney told them he was leaving for Essendon, where he will be an assistant under new coach James Hird.

But he does not believe the widespread speculation that Thompson played a part in McCartney's defection.

Thompson has denied he will join Essendon to work with Hird.

"I don't believe in any way that Mark Thompson has lured or been a representative of Essendon in trying to lure McCartney to the Bombers," Cook said.

"Brendan McCartney guaranteed that yesterday morning to us and he's a very honest man so we take him on his word to that.

"My gut feel is he (Thompson) may end up in a part-time role at a football club and most likely Essendon, but I don't know.

"I certainly believe that he won't go back into footy full-time."

Cook said the Cats had a shortlist of six potential replacements for Thompson and they would conduct second interviews over the next few days.

They aim to announce their new coach before pre-season training starts in November.

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