Scott holds nerve

Geelong Advertiser - - AFL - LACHIE YOUNG THE COACH

THERE were three ways Chris Scott and the Cats could have looked at Fri­day night’s clash with Syd­ney af­ter Gee­long’s 51-point loss to Rich­mond in the qual­i­fy­ing fi­nal.

Be­ing pes­simistic was never go­ing to be one, and in any case there was an am­ple sup­ply of ex­perts who were tak­ing care of that ex­ter­nally.

To be overly op­ti­mistic would also have been fraught with dan­ger be­cause de­spite a top-four fin­ish and earn­ing the dou­ble chance, only a fool would have be­lieved putting in a re­peat per­for­mance from a week ear­lier would have gar­nered a dif­fer­ent re­sult.

So things had to change, and no matter the public en­thu­si­asm from the coach and the play­ers, in­ter­nally ev­ery­one was aware of what was on the line.

Put sim­ply, Gee­long had to ap­proach the con­test with prag­ma­tism, and it was ab­so­lute in do­ing so.

The Cats fin­ished sec­ond af­ter the home-and-away sea­son with 15 wins and a draw — and was a Tom Hawkins kick off be­ing out­right first — so they knew they had what it took to get the win.

But the swift­ness and ex­e­cu­tion of the coach’s mes­sage to his play­ers in the wake of the de­feat to the Tigers was cru­cial.

Its de­liv­ery re­it­er­ated to every­body that what hap­pened was un­ac­cept­able, but it was also made crys­tal clear that the op­por­tu­nity they had earnt to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion was now theirs to grasp.

Scott had con­ceded if he had his time over Daniel Men­zel would have played against Rich­mond.

His abil­ity to trans­form a de­flated play­ing group is what the art of coach­ing is all about.

It is why Joel Sel­wood la­belled him the best-on­ground against the Swans.

The as­sis­tant coaches are there to help with tac­tics and match-ups, and to work with the play­ers from their in­di­vid­ual po­si­tional port­fo­lios, but it is Scott who had to be the one to motivate the 22 men tasked with fronting up against one of their most feared en­e­mies.

It is not a facet of the job the two-time Brisbane Lions premier­ship de­fender has al­ways rel­ished, but he de­serves recog­ni­tion for stepping up when it mat­tered most.

Vic­tor Frankl wrote in Man’s Search For Mean­ing that “when we are no longer able to change a sit­u­a­tion, we are chal­lenged to change our­selves”, and Scott did that.

Gee­long goes to Ade­laide and while the blow­torch will be off the club, the job for the Cats is hardly any less daunt­ing.

The Crows have en­joyed a week off, they will be play­ing in front of an en­er­getic crowd and there will be an emo­tional high from which Gee­long will need to come down.

But the Cats are the type of team that thrives on con­ti­nu­ity in their foot­ball. They will not be daunted. Gee­long will be fo­cused on back­ing up the in­ten­sity it dis­played against Syd­ney.

Its sole mo­ti­va­tion will be earn­ing a grand fi­nal berth.

There will be no pes­simism, although fans will once again be op­ti­mistic.

Scott and the play­ers, though, will be more prag­matic. The job is not over yet. In fact, it’s only just be­gun. Nakia Cock­a­too Dy­namic, ex­plo­sive and en­er­getic, but comes with a mas­sive risk. If you knew with ab­so­lute cer­tainty that his ham­string is­sues would not flare up and that he would get through un­scathed, he would be picked in a heart­beat. Can break a game open. Jack­son Thur­low Seems to be on the out­side at Gee­long, but with An­drew Mackie, Jed Bews, Tom Ste­wart and Zach Tuohy down back, it is not hard to see why. The Crows have plenty of match-ups for him but he is a fair bit back in the peck­ing or­der when it comes to mid­sized de­fend­ers. Tom Lon­er­gan Has been de­clared a cer­tain starter. Missed the chance to have one fi­nal crack at his great ri­val Buddy Franklin. Jor­dan Mur­doch Was in the box seat af­ter play­ing 21 home-and-away games the year, but his poor show­ing against Rich­mond would be fresh in the minds of se­lec­tors. Has the po­ten­tial to be a dam­ag­ing player, but af­ter such an or­di­nary out­ing on the big stage it’s dif­fi­cult to make a case for his re­turn. Wylie Buzza Emer­gency for Rich­mond game but then out of the squad for Syd­ney. If he was a chance to come in, it would have been against the Swans but the Cats opted for Rhys Stan­ley. Hasn’t put a foot wrong but his ab­sence ap­pears to have more to do with team bal­ance than form. Tom Ste­wart Re­deemed him­self af­ter a tough ini­ti­a­tion against the Tigers and the club is con­fi­dent he will be right for the Crows af­ter a ham­string scare. If fit he will cer­tainly play, and will need an­other big per­for­mance against the best at­tack­ing team in the AFL. Rhys Stan­ley Was a late in­clu­sion and did his job well against Syd­ney, but he may be the un­lucky one to make way for Lon­er­gan. Zac Smith is play­ing ca­reer-best foot­ball as the sole ruck­man so the need for him there is gone as Mark Bli­cavs is an am­ple sub­sti­tute within games. Gee­long may not want to go in too tall, which could prove to be his down­fall. James Par­sons Laid five tack­les (af­ter hav­ing zero the week be­fore­hand) but only had five dis­pos­als and gave away four free kicks. Has kicked three goals from past eight matches and would be the man most likely to miss if the Cats go with Cock­a­too as a like-for-like re­place­ment. Has played ev­ery game (ex­cept two when he was sus­pended) since mak­ing his de­but in Round 3, but like Mur­doch, may have been ex­posed on the big stage.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.