How Motlop can solve all Geelong’s problems

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Steven Motlop celebrates a Round 1 goal. Picture: Getty Images

Jon RalphHerald Sun

OVERWEIGHT, flighty and a wasted talent.

That trio of criticisms pretty much encapsulate the reaction to Steven Motlop’s mediocre 2016 season.

It was a year in which he came back fat, endured a wildly fluctuating form line, then had no suitors when Geelong attempted to trade him.

And yet by year’s end — despite a goalless final against Sydney — he had kicked 38 goals, good enough to be ranked 21st in the competition.

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On Monday Motlop takes on an old foe in Hawthorn, the same team whose 2015 on-field sledges saw him suspended by Geelong for drinking before their Easter Monday clash.

And as he attempts to help end the season of a famous rival, he will do so as an enigma who could be the solution to all of Geelong’s list management issues.

Big call, but while the media has obsessed over Harry Taylor’s role this week it is Motlop who might hold the key to many of their hopes — and future dreams.

Steven Motlop in action during Geelong’s Round 1 win. Picture: Getty Images

Steven Motlop in action during Geelong’s Round 1 win. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Including a potential return to Geelong for the prodigal son Gary Ablett.

Motlop, 26, becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the season as a deal worth as much as $600,000 a season expires.

It doesn’t really matter to Geelong if he stays or goes at season’s end.

All that matters is that he plays well.

This year he has kicked off the season with the usual Motlop mix — five goals and real excitement in two of those games, just 11 touches in three quarters against North Melbourne.

Yet if it wasn’t his day against the Roos he helped turn the last 30 minutes into his moment with some key interventions as the Cats rolled a superior opponent.

So if he can peel off a 50-goal year with genuine tackle pressure, less flat spots and constant surging run from the midfield, the Cats are winners either way.

They can try to sign him despite his free agent status and make an unemotional call on Ablett aware they have Motlop and Dan Menzel as serious small forwards/flankers at the perfect age.

If he does play so well rivals swoon and hand him can’t resist offers, the Cats don’t match the deal and get a quality compensation pick for their troubles.

All of a sudden they are potentially back into the first round of the draft — or at the very worst get an early second-rounder.

And then they not only free salary cap space for Ablett, they have more flexibility with draft picks to compensate Gold Coast.

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Geelong’s cap was so tight last year it could not afford Richmond’s Brett Deledio and would presently need some fancy footwork to fit Ablett in.

If Motlop was to leave it would make the decision on Ablett a no-brainer as a like-for-like replacement who might even save them money.

After the Zach Tuohy-Billie Smedts trade last year Geelong has Carlton’s second-round pick and the Blues have Geelong’s first-rounder.

The Cats will hope those two picks are close together by dint of their own high finish and a potential Blues bottom-six finish.

Again, the more draft picks the Cats have the more options they give Stephen Wells and his list management team to plot the path ahead.

Steven Motlop after Geelong’s preliminary final loss to Sydney last year. Picture: Wayne Ludbey

Steven Motlop after Geelong’s preliminary final loss to Sydney last year. Picture: Wayne LudbeySource:News Corp Australia

Two years ago Motlop was having a cheeky beer at the local footy in Colac when spotted by the Hawks crew, who let him know about it on game day.

After an Easter Monday special — 32 possessions and a goal — he copped his internal suspension and moved on.

Whether he holds a grudge or not remains to be seen.

But if he can light up the MCG again on Monday — then keep going all season — then everyone goes home happy no matter his home in 2018.

Originally published as How Motlop can solve all Geelong’s problems

SOURCE: newsnow sport