New Geelong recruit Jonathon Ceglar says good mate Isaac Smith, Patrick Dangerfield’s boat, life on the coast and prolonged success are the key elements that made his choice to join the Cats an easy one.
The 30-year-old, who played 101 games for Hawthorn between 2013 and 2021, was “relieved” to get the two-year deal done with the Cats, which saw Geelong give up a future third-round selection (connected to Brisbane) to land the big man.
“I woke up with a pep in my step. It’s a new lease on life, a fresh start,” Ceglar said.
But it wasn’t just the renewed opportunity that drew the ruckman to the Cattery, with the ethos and genuine competitiveness of the club a major factor in his decision.
“Their culture and their sustained success is a big draw card,” he said.
“They run a very good program and they have for a very long time. You only hear good things come out of Geelong from players.”
The Cats, who have secured their second Hawk in two years, are keen to utilise Ceglar to support ruckman Rhys Stanley, who also signed a two-year deal last week.
“I talked to the club last week. It’s all about working together. The good clubs have two rucks that work together, split it 50/50 or 60/40,” he said.
Despite feeling like he and his body are at the peak of their powers, Ceglar knows that he is only one part of Geelong’s hunt for their 10th premiership.
“It’s not coming in with an ego, it’s working as a team. That’s what I’ll be working towards with Rhys [Stanley] and the other rucks,” he said.
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And the mature-age recruit brings a wealth of knowledge from his years alongside Premiership Hawthorn ruckman Ben McEvoy, that he says he will share with the Cats.
“If they do want to know anything, I’m happy to help!” he said.
Old Hawthorn teammate Isaac Smith, who came fourth in Geelong’s Best and Fairest in 2021, was also a major part of Ceglar’s interest in Geelong, a team he and Smith once admired from afar.
“It’s a club, I and Hawthorn have had a lot of respect for,” the ruckman said.
Smith, who was in talks with Ceglar all season, praised Geelong’s player management, particularly for the mature-age footballers, which enticed the ruckman to head down the highway.
“He is a big wrap for their program as an older player, how they run their footy club. I’ve always had that in the back of my mind,” Ceglar said.
“I’ve spoken to him all year. Having him and his wife there made the decision quite easy.”
Geelong made a similar move bringing ruckman Brad Ottens to the club from Richmond in 2005, building its golden era side around the big man, which they hope to replicate with Ceglar’s help.
“They’ve been really good for a really long time and they are pressing on next year for more success,” he said.
And Geelong’s mature-aged player management has Ceglar believing that he could be part of something special at Kardinia Park next year.
“He’s [Smith] firmly in the belief that their best side is as good as anyone in the competition,” he said.
Ceglar, who now joins Smith in a coastal move down the highway, believes this change couldn’t come at a better time, as he balances football and his passions outside of the game.
“It was one of the two main elements that drew me. It was that [work life balance] and the constant success they have.
“As an older player, I’ve got a full life outside of footy that I enjoy, so this is right for me.”
And like new Geelong development coach Eddie Betts, the ruckman is keen to get a piece of Patrick Dangerfield’s boat and see all the coast has to offer.
“I’ll have to suss it out, Isaac’s always around that sort of stuff, so I’ll have to tag along!” he said.
Ceglar is a firm believer in Geelong’s sustained success and his buy-in couldn’t come at a better time, as the Cats push to go all the way in 2022.
“I’m walking into a side that is a genuine top-four contender. If you finish in the top four, you give yourself every chance.
“From the outside looking in, I believe that.”
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