Marking his territory: How Brandan Parfitt found his place in Cats midfield

Parfitt heeded the lessons and went about re-igniting his career.


He began with a strong pre-season, getting himself fit and healthy to create the right mindset to play well.

“My biggest knock was that I was not a great runner. [But] I feel like I have added to my attributes and I have covered the ground a lot better this year,” Parfitt said. “It helps when I am in the contest. That is when I play my best footy. I feel like I am doing that this year and just keep at it and stay balanced and consistent with everything that I do.”

He started the season in fine style before a slight dip last week when he was one of the Cats’ midfielders unable to match the quick feet inside the centre square of Port Adelaide stars Jason Horne-Francis and Zak Butters.

It should only be a blip, however, as Parfitt is back near his best, and – for this week only – back at home to play his first AFL game in Darwin, where he was raised.

He’s won the same amount of contested and uncontested possessions in 2024 (an average of nine of each per game), and sits behind only Tom Atkins in the club’s tackle count, displaying the skill he began to master as a youngster while playing rugby union and league in Darwin’s dry season.

Geelong’s Brandan Parfitt can’t wait to play in his hometown in Sir Doug Nicholls Round

Geelong’s Brandan Parfitt can’t wait to play in his hometown in Sir Doug Nicholls RoundCredit: AFL Photos

His ability to burrow in to contests like a wombat and extract the football is well-established, his willingness to absorb pressure before disposing the reason he is such a handy player.

Those skills will be especially useful against Gold Coast on Thursday in Darwin’s humidity, which makes the ball slippery, emphasising the importance of gaining territory.

Although happy to pass on his local knowledge to his teammates, Parfitt jokes that his most salient piece of advice is pretty simple.

“I just want them to avoid the sun as much as possible before the game,” Parfitt said.

The 26-year-old is still pinching himself at the prospect of playing for the Cats in that familiar environment on Thursday night.

He never imagined when drafted to the Cats in the 2016 national draft at pick 26, just one selection after St Kilda drafted his best mate Ben Long, that it would be possible.

So he was excited when the fixture was released late last year, and immediately set his sights on making sure he was in the team – as did Long, now at the Suns – the upcoming game a constant subject in their regular text exchanges.

Parfitt, a Larrakia man, is the son of David, a Darwin footy great who played 250 games as a defender, while his mum Jody is a cousin of Olympian Nova Peris and hails from a family of Nightcliff Football Club stalwarts.

He has requested 25 tickets for family and friends for Thursday’s match, and expects to field calls from many of the people who helped him on his journey from winning a senior best-and-fairest award for Nightcliff aged just 16, to North Adelaide then Sleepy Hollow.

“To play an AFL game in my home town in Geelong colours … I never thought I would do, so I will try to put my best foot forward and play well,” Parfitt said.

A no-fuss operator on and off the field, Parfitt admits this match is not just another game for him.


“To get all my family from [Darwin] and to play on that ground is pretty significant and special,” Parfitt said. “I get to bring my second family up, which is the Geelong Football Club, and to do it in front of all my people and to do it on a special round [Sir Doug Nicholls round] as well, which tops it off.”

Naturally, a win would be ideal, particularly given he has planned to take about 10 teammates on a fishing charter in Darwin Harbour on Friday morning.

Regardless of the result, Parfitt suspects the match will be one of the most cherished moments he’ll have wearing a Geelong jumper.

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