2022 Trade Period Analysis: Jack Bowes & Tanner Bruhn, Geelong

Welcome to the 2022 Free Agency & Trade Period analysis series. Over the next fortnight, the plan is to look at every player heading to a new club. It’s not going to be a ‘who won the trade’ series, but rather a look at how players fit into existing setups, or what changes they may force.

The rich get richer.

Geelong, fresh off a premiership, have obtained Tanner Bruhn, Jack Bowes, and pick 7, in return for pick 18 and a future third round selection.

Bruhn and Bowes arrive at the Cats to likely play a large part in revamping the midfield, setting it up for the future.

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After that they’ll be free for all. Given the Patreon is only running until the end of October, signing up now means only one payment on sign up, and then nothing else needed until March 2023.

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By the end of the year, Geelong’s main on-ball rotations looked something like this:

C Guthrie/Blicavs (not including ruck time)/Selwood/Dangerfield/Atkins

With Selwood’s retirement, murmurs around Dangerfield being deployed forward more often, and Guthrie rarely playing more than 75 percent game time, there are gaps to be filled.

To start with Bowes, working under the assumption he’s been promised midfield time to pick the Cats, he instantly becomes one of their best decision makers – and best ball users.

Although Bowes isn’t blessed with a lot of speed (not slow either, to be fair), he adds a point of difference to other Cats on-ballers with what he does ball in hand.

As much I dislike posting standard, generic highlight packages, this aptly showcases what Bowes can do:

It’s not as if Geelong are in desperate need of this, coming off a premiership win by 652 points. What it does do is give them a different look, reshapes their midfield, and hand them an extra offensive tool to work with.

The natural reaction is to wonder how Bowes doesn’t get a game for Gold Coast and waltzes straight into Geelong’s midfield. But with Miller, Rowell and Anderson locked in for the foreseeable future, barring injury there were only scraps available at the Suns.

There’s an opportunity at the Cats, with room in a specific system, and Bowes’ ball use and decision making abilities makes him good enough to take it. It’s all pretty simple.

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If you’ve missed any of the Free Agency & Trade Analysis posts, here’s where to catch up:

Friday 30th
Karl Amon, Hawthorn

Monday 3rd
Jayden Hunt, West Coast | Bobby Hill, Collingwood | Tim Taranto, Richmond

Tuesday 4th
Blake Acres, Carlton | Liam Jones, Western Bulldogs | Daniel McStay, Collingwood

Wednesday 5th
Ben Long, Gold Coast | Zaine Cordy, St Kilda | Griffin Logue & Darcy Tucker, North Melbourne | Tom Berry, Gold Coast

Thursday 6th
Josh Corbett, Fremantle

Monday 10th
Will Setterfield, Essendon | Izak Rankine, Adelaide | Toby Bedford, GWS | Jason Horne-Francis & Willie Rioli, Port Adelaide

Tuesday 11th
Billy Frampton, Collingwood | Jack Gunston, Brisbane | Brodie Grundy, Melbourne | Jacob Hopper, Richmond

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While Bowes is ready to go and should contribute immediately, my view on Bruhn is that he’ll be a slower burn.

It’s not to say Bruhn won’t be a valuable addition, but rather it’ll probably take him some time to get up to speed with Geelong’s expectations.

Bowes arrives fully formed, but Bruhn is still at the ‘bits and pieces’ stage at AFL level. His games at the Giants were largely at half forward, and that spot is well stocked.

Going from half forward to large midfield minutes doesn’t happen overnight, and expecting it to is both unrealistic, and not how Geelong do things.

What I’m picturing is a stint where Bruhn is allowed to develop into a first-possession type midfielder on the inside, and then comes into the AFL outfit ready to go.

These types of plays around stoppages are where I think he’ll add the most value to Geelong:

If the clip doesn’t work for you, click here to view

Along with that role comes a requirement for Bruhn to strengthen the defensive side of his game. To date it’s been inconsistent, but more because of youth and inexperience rather than any technical deficiencies. It should be brought up to speed with time.

Even allowing for their demolition of Sydney in the Grand Final, Geelong’s offensive stoppage game was ‘merely’ good rather than top tier, ranking ninth in the home and away season for points per clearance win.

If/when Bruhn settles into his new role, as Bowes provides a different option in possession, Geelong have strengthened their ball winning and ball use with long-term midfield options. Not bad from the reigning premiers.

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In case you missed it, the Look Back/Look Ahead series recently wrapped.

Every team’s list was analysed in depth, with a key question picked out for 2023. In some ways the posts work hand-in-hand with these individual analyses, understanding needs and priorities.

Here are all the links to catch up on:

North MelbourneReadWest CoastRead
GWSReadEssendonRead
AdelaideReadHawthornRead
Gold CoastReadPort AdelaideRead
St KildaReadCarltonRead
RichmondReadWestern BulldogsRead
MelbourneReadFremantleRead
BrisbaneReadCollingwoodRead
SydneyReadGeelongRead

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