Geelong will be greatly improved by the presence of Nakia Cockatoo this season.
That is the opinion of Patrick Dangerfield who has described the 23-year-old as a player who will provide plenty of problems for opponents in 2020 such is the athleticism and power he possesses.
Cockatoo has not played at AFL level since Round 3, 2018 having been tormented by hamstring and knee issues over his short career to date, but if fully fit could be a decisive inclusion for the Cats.
“He is going to be one of the biggest differences that we have this year,” Dangerfield said of Cockatoo on SEN Breakfast.
“He’s been perennially injured for the last few years. He’s an athlete and there’s very few like him in the competition.
“To finally get him right, get his hammies right, which he’s been plagued by. He’ll play that half-forward role and roll through the midfield.
“He’s such a powerful player and line breaker that he’ll cause the opposition headaches and he’ll give midfielders a chop out.
“He’s going to be a really big change for us. To get him fit throughout the whole season will be really important.”
Asked specifically of the attributes that set Cockatoo apart, Dangerfield highlighted his raw strength which he is only now beginning to fully figure out.
“It’s more the power and the speed that he can play with,” he added.
“We’ve got a few on our list who can do it. Esava Ratugolea is one I look at immediately.
“Just that power off the mark, ability to break tackles, he’s almost un-tackleable the way that Nakia plays. He’s incredibly well built.
“The challenge for him is he’s been too powerful for his own good early and he’s starting to get that balance of when to push himself incredibly hard and burst through three tackles versus holding the tackle up, waiting and getting a re-bounce.
“It’s taken him a while to adjust to that and understand it but he’s slowly getting there now.”
With just 34 games to his name in five seasons, patience with Cockatoo may be running out for some, but the Cats are firmly of the belief that he can deliver what he’s promised since he was taken with pick 10 in the 2014 draft.
Listen to Dangerfield on SEN Breakfast below: