Cats to put trust in their midfield
GEELONG will look to limit the effect of Melbourne’s best midfielders on Friday night but coach Chris Scott says his side will need to ensure it doesn’t overcompensate and lose focus on its own strengths.
At their best the Cats have a star-studded midfield, including Patrick Dangerfield, Cam Guthrie, Mitch Duncan and captain Joel Selwood, who has admittedly been quiet in the first two weeks of finals.
But the Demons have just as much firepower in their engine room, with Clayton Oliver, Jack Viney, Christian Petracca and Angus Brayshaw all capable of hurting the opposition.
Oliver in particular has been a thorn in Geelong’s side but Scott said it would be important to find the right balance in the midfield battle.
“You can (limit Oliver’s influence) but it is a question for both sides,” Scott said.
“So how much are you prepared to give to try to stop the best opposition midfielders? There is a really clear line there for us where trying to stop them becomes an overall negative for the way that our team wants to play.
“I suspect there will be a little bit of both teams trying to get the game on their terms and be proactive with their midfielders with a couple of contingencies if that is not working.
“But I think it is folly to go in thinking that Petracca and Viney and Oliver and those guys need to have really low possession games for us to win. I don’t agree with that notion.”
Scott said Geelong was backing Selwood in after recording 17 and 14 disposals against Port Adelaide and GWS respectively in the qualifying and semi-finals.
He also looks set to continue with key forward Esava Ratugolea, who did not play when the two sides met in Round 23.
“I think it is likely (that Geelong commits to Ratugolea),” Scott said.
“I think I have said quite a few times that I am a real believer in what Esava can be and more than that I am a believer in what he is right now.”
The comments came amid criticism of the “delusional” hope at Geelong that All-australian defender Tom Stewart could play in a grand final should the Cats win on Friday.
Stewart underwent Lisfranc surgery on August 16 and began running this week as he eyes off a remarkable recovery in the hope of being part of a premiership side this year.
Sports doctor Peter Larkins last month said the procedure would rule Stewart out for the season.
In a tweet last week responding to suggestions the Cats were holding out hope their star backman would be right by September 25, Dr Larkins said that view was “delusional”.
But Scott said Geelong was receiving the best possible advice on how to proceed with Stewart’s recovery.
“We are confident that we have the very best people in Australia certainly, but maybe even the world, who are across this,” Scott said.