Cats call right move for AFL veteran Smith

AFL milestone man Isaac Smith has no regrets about joining Geelong instead of Melbourne when he made the shock decision to leave Hawthorn.

A three-time premiership wingman with the Hawks, Smith moved to the Cats as a free agent at the end of 2020.

In doing so, he rejected overtures from the Demons who knocked Geelong out of last year’s premiership race on the way to claiming their drought-breaking flag.

The sides meet again in a first-versus-second showdown at GMHBA Stadium on Thursday night as Smith plays his 250th game.

“That’s footy,” the 33-year-old said this week when asked to reflect on the sliding doors moment.

“We’re playing them this week – one versus two – and I’ve been around long enough to know that you win big games and you lose big games.

“Yeah, they did win the flag, but I do have three of them as well and hopefully four by the end of this year.”

Smith has played 39 games at Geelong after 210 at Hawthorn, having initially been drafted as a mature-age pick from North Ballarat.

The durable veteran, who remains undecided on his playing future beyond this season, feels the Cats switch has been a success regardless of whether he ends up adding a fourth premiership medal to his collection.

“If everyone rated their career on winning flags and that was the only successful part of their career, it could be a pretty long and lonely career because not everyone does it,” Smith said.

“But to win one at another club, knowing that people had sort of written you off individually, would be a nice little cherry on top.”

The laid-back Smith was much-loved at Hawthorn and a portion of the brown-and-gold supporter base has jeered him in matches between the arch rivals since his departure.

But Smith takes a pragmatic view of the decision and said it would be naive to think the player movement landscape had not changed in recent years.

“It sounds silly but a lot of it is business transactions now,” Smith said.

“What I’ve learned over my career as a player is that your time in the game is too short and the clubs will probably get rid of you quicker than what the player would probably prefer.

“I’m not saying that Hawthorn were trying to get rid of me – they had a contract there – but it was just a time in our life to evolve.

“I’ve always been big on enhancing my skills, not just on the field but off the field in studying education and to get the opportunity to come to a really strong club. It was something that interested me and my family.”

Smith has missed just one match since joining Geelong, when he was rested a few weeks before last year’s finals series.


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