Bartel easing AFL path for Cats youngster - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bartel easing AFL path for Cats youngster

Sam Lienert 12/05/2011 06:09:49 PM Comments (0)

Geelong youngster Mitch Duncan credits the good nature of Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel with easing the pressure as he makes his name in the star-studded AFL side.

Blockbusters such as Friday night's table-topping MCG clash with Collingwood are nothing new for most of the Cats, the bulk of whom are premiership players.

But for 19-year-old, 13-gamer Duncan, it will be clearly the biggest night of his career so far.

The midfielder-forward said experienced teammates had been a huge help, with Bartel in particular regularly going out of his way to ensure he feels comfortable.

"Jimmy Bartel's really good when the game's on, he's really good to communicate with," Duncan said.

"He keeps you not so nervous, he keeps you active, he's good, he keeps your mind on the job and stuff like that.

"He says `if you need a kick or something, just run around me' and he gives you a handball, just little things like that where it can bring you back into the game."

But Duncan, whose first 13 AFL games have included 12 wins, has not needed too much help.

He is equal with Paul Chapman at the top of the Cats' goal-kicking tally, with nine goals from 10 shots.

His 24-touch, two-goal game against Port Adelaide in round three earned him a Rising Star nomination.

And after missing a game with soreness the following weekend, he played a key role in the hard-fought round five win over Hawthorn, kicking two crucial goals in the last 15 minutes.

Duncan was surprised to find himself leading the club's goal-scoring.

"It's kind of weird how I've popped up and kicked that many, I only kicked eight last year in eight games," he said.

"So I've just been in the right spot in the right time really, but it's good we're getting an even spread and not relying on a couple of goal-kickers."

But, while shining in that area, he said winning the contested ball and the defensive side of his game were areas he needed to work on.

Bookmakers have the Magpies firm favourites for Friday night's contest of the two unbeaten sides, but Duncan said the Cats rated their chances strongly.

"It probably is a bit of a 50-50 contest, we're playing good footy and so are they," he said.

"They're obviously the reigning premiers, they've got the jump on us, but we're pretty confident in what we can deliver."

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