Kolodjashnij tipped for big year

20 January 2018 00:24:43 EST

Geelong defensive coach Matthew Scarlett believes Jake Kolodjashnij is set to take a big leap forward in the new AFL season.

The Cats need players to step up after the retirements of Tom Lonergan and Andrew Mackie left a gaping hole in their backline.

Kolodjashnij has had an excellent pre-season, which Scarlett feels has left him well placed to take the role Mackie played across half-back and on the wing.

Groin problems and glandular fever held him back in pre-season last year, sidelining him for the first seven rounds, but so far he has not missed a session as the Cats build up to the new campaign.

"Hopefully he can have a big year, whether that's around the footy or down back he's going to be pretty versatile," said Scarlett of the player who has signed a new deal through to the end of 2019.

The 22-year-old started last season as the club's third tall defender alongside Lonergan and Lachie Henderson, but when the Cats decided to trial him on a wing in the second half of the year the positional shift saw his output increase.

From 18 games, Kolodjashnij averaged career highs in disposals (14.6), marks (4.4), inside 50s (2.4), rebound 50s (1.5) and uncontested possessions (10.8).

Meanwhile, Greater Western Sydney half-back Zac Williams faces an extended spell on the sidelines after rupturing his Achilles in training.

The 23-year-old is one of the club's best ball users, and his injury compounds the loss of fellow running defender Nathan Wilson, who was traded to Fremantle late last year.

"This is a really unfortunate injury for Zac who had been training really well throughout the pre-season so far," said Giants head of athletic performance David Joyce. "Zac will meet with a specialist early next week to determine the extent of the injury which will allow us to then map out the best possible management pathway."

The Giants are 7/20 to win their first game of the season against Western Bulldogs, who are 47/20.

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