By Luke Voogt
Two big milestones will help fire up Geelong Cats for their Friday night clash against Hawthorn in the absence of crowds, according to coach Chris Scott.
Star midfielder Patrick Dangerfield will play his 250th game, which will also be the Hawks first at Kardinia Park in 14 years.
“But more than all of those things, it’s just good for everyone to have footy back,” Scott told a press conference on Tuesday.
With crowds banned for now due to coronavirus, the players would have to create their own excitement, Scott said.
“Trying to generate a bit of enthusiasm for the occasion shouldn’t be too big a challenge – for either team. The [return of football] is big enough in and of its itself.”
Scott described Dangerfield as “one of the all-time greats” who had helped keep the Cats in premiership contention since he first donned blue and white.
“He’s changed our footy club,” he said.
“It’s a shame that our supporters can’t be here and the people close to Paddy, especially, can’t be here to cheer him on.
Despite Hawthorn’s long absence from Geelong, a thinner GMHBA Stadium would not be an “overwhelming advantage”, Scott said.
“They’re aware of the dimensions, they’re training on a thinner ground – it’s not rocket science I would have thought.
“We’re not going into the game thinking, ‘beauty, we’ve got them at Geelong, we’ll be alright’.”
The Cats have ruled out Jake Kolodjashnij due to a hip injury and former Crow Josh Jenkins due to a back spasm.
But Geelong will have Brandan Parfitt back, and Scott said the Cats were better prepared than round one, when they lost to Greater Western Sydney by 32 points.
“We were clearly underdone going into round one,” he said.
“Some of those players who made it to the line but weren’t quite at their best will be better for the extra couple of months of training.”
The Cats are scheduled to play three of their next four games at GMHBA Stadium.
But given the current isolation of Cats players and coaching staff from the general public, Scott had no problem with club joining an interstate hub later in the season.
“A hub in southeast Queensland at this time of year? Yeah, no problems at all.”
But he was less enthusiastic about WA.
“It’s so windy in WA,” he said