GEELONG would have fought a two-match ban on suspended forward James Podsiadly if the same penalty was handed down weeks earlier in the season, coach Mark Thompson has revealed.
The club decided to avoid risking the Cats’ cult figure missing three games including two finals, which could have resulted in Podsiadly staying out of the side until a possible grand final.
He was rubbed out on a charge for making forceful front-on contact with Carlton’s Bryce Gibbs.
The Cats also accepted one week for defender Josh Hunt on a charge of rough conduct for a crude, slinging tackle.
Thompson said the Cats’ thinking on challenges had changed as the finals approached.
“I would have probably challenged Podsiadly’s and maybe Hunt’s,” he said.
“It’s a bit of shame. That’s the way it is – we haven’t got a problem with any part of the process but it’s just where we are at the moment.
“We would have probably contested the impact (of Podsiadly’s bump) if anything.”
Podsiadly may not play another game for four weeks if Geelong wins its first final against St Kilda next week and advances straight through to a preliminary final.
Thompson said the suspension would have “huge consequences” on the 28-year-old AFL debutant who has kicked 45 goals in 17 games.
“He’ll be pretty devastated, I’d say,” he said.
Podsiadly’s actions have opened the door for maligned ruckman Mark Blake to play for the first time in weeks.
Thompson said Blake’s inclusion could mean Geelong “at times” would play three talls – Cameron Mooney, Tom Hawkins and Brad Ottens – inside the forward 50-metre arc at Skilled Stadium tomorrow.
Thompson ruled out resting players ahead of an easy clash against West Coast.
Cameron Ling, Andrew Mackie, Tom Lonergan and Ottens would also return, he said.
“We’ll probably play a very strong squad this week, as strong as we can possibly field,” Thompson said.
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey was criticised for resting several quality players last week in a farcical 116-point loss against Hawthorn.
A bad run with injuries in previous weeks forced the Dockers to leave out seven of its leading stars last weekend.
“We haven’t been taking those risks with our players,” Thompson said.
“If you look back at our stats we’ve missed a lot of people through injury the last six weeks and a lot of those boys could have played.”
But Max Rooke looks set to miss out on the Cats finals’ campaign.
Thompson said the hardened utility would be forced to step up his preparation to simulate match conditions to even be considered.
He said the Cats would have to “be in a bit of a state” to play Rooke again this year.
“Obviously it’s going to be difficult for him. He knows that but, again, we just can’t give up on him because of his character,” Thompson said.
“We’d love to have him in the team but it’s going to be hard.”