A lot has changed for Collingwood’s Alex Fasolo since his previous AFL game.
He’s taking a lot more notice of what the backline coach says, for one. Mainly because the skilful half-forward has become a defender.
It has been almost a year since Fasolo’s 40th match in round five last season, which was followed by a season-ending foot injury a couple of weeks later.
Sent into defence in the VFL in 2014, the 21-year-old East Fremantle product has earned a senior recall as a backman, although he’s been named on the wing.
Fasolo and 22-game key defender Lachie Keeffe will form part of Collingwood’s backline for Saturday night’s round-three clash with unbeaten Geelong at the MCG.
Keefe and Fasolo come into the side for injured defenders Nathan Brown and Ben Sinclair.
Collingwood’s backline coach Ben Hart says with youth comes enthusiasm and Fasolo also brings skills by the bucketload.
But he’s been told showcasing those skills is not his first item of business.
“He’s a natural forward. Being able to send him down back for three or four weeks in the VFL adds a string to his bow,” Hart told AAP on Friday.
“He has really bought in to the defensive side of it and wants to learn a lot about how to play defence.
“He has certainly picked it up over the last few weeks.”
Hart says 21-year-old Fasolo has a natural flair.
“The modern game demands a little bit of guys like that who can play in the back half,” Hart said.
“But it’s also for the kid himself to get a balance on how to play multiple roles.
“If he can get his hands on it wherever he plays, it will be good for our side.
“The number one priority for Alex if he does play down back is that he defends first.
“He has to be very strong with his defensive mindset.
“When it’s his turn to play his role in our offence, we expect him to do that as well.”
Hart says 22-year-old Jack Frost is the likely opponent for Geelong’s 2012 All-Australian Tom Hawkins.
Hart is backing four-game player Frost and 22-match veteran Keeffe to stand their ground against the might of Hawkins, Mitch Brown and Geelong’s ruck duo Hamish McIntosh and Mark Blicavs.
“Keeffe’s spent a bit of time in the last few years in our leadership group so he’s a handy one to get back there, alongside some youth,” Hart said.
Hart said Frost was a “no-frills type of defender” who would gain confidence from last week’s game on Sydney’s Lance Franklin.
Collingwood (1-1) will start as underdogs against the Cats who have dropped ruckman Dawson Simpson, while tagger Taylor Hunt is suspended.