Last stretch ‘key’ for Cats

Patrick Dangerfield at training on Tuesday. (Louisa Jones) 243698_41

By Luke Voogt

The remaining rounds are shaping up as critical for Cats stars hoping to get up to speed for the finals, according to captain Joel Selwood.

“I think we’ll have a number of players that will benefit from these last six weeks,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.

“I think of Paddy [Patrick Dangerfield] straight away… we’ll get Jezza [Jeremy Cameron] back at some stage and I’m sure Mitch [Duncan] will join the party at some stage too.

“Integrating those blokes back into the side will be really key.”

Selwood stressed the importance of Dangerfield getting a run after missing several weeks this season due to an ankle injury and, earlier, a three-week suspension.

“He’s a pure footballer that needs football, so I think we’ll see a better him come six weeks’ time.”

Selwood said he had heard “good reports” about Duncan, who injured his posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee almost a month ago.

“He’s doing a lot more work now than what he was doing a short time ago.

“We’ve got ourselves in a really good position – we’ve got ourselves to 12 wins really quickly – and now we’ve just got to build on that and our position in that top four.”

Cats coach Chris Scott was cautiously optimistic about Geelong’s top four chances.

“I think we’re a little bit off where we can get to but looking around the competition a few clubs are in that boat,” he said.

“I think top four is on the table for us if we play well enough, but we’re far from a guarantee of that.”

The previous round included five upsets, which made determining what top four football looked like even more difficult, Scott said.

“The priority for us is getting our game in the sort of shape where we’re playing so well that things around who we play and where we play become less relevant.”

The Cats would make small tweaks to the side over the next few rounds, Scott indicated.

“We are in a position where we’ve 26-28 guys we’d love to have in the team and not enough space, so there is a little bit of an onus on us to be a bit creative with that selection without destabilising the cohesion within the team.”

Scott praised his captain, who earlier in the day announced he would play on in 2022.

While the contract extension had been “a nice announcement for the club to make”, internally the decision had been a “fait accompli“ given Selwood’s output this season, Scott said.

“We can make a pretty strong case to say he’s going better as a 33-year-old … compared to when he was 30.”

He said he and Selwood admired each other but were not “sycophants” and had had respectful but “robust“ disagreements over the journey.

“We have strong views and we have times where we – debate, I’d say is the right word – where we come away not always agreeing necessarily, but always agreeing on sticking together.”

Scott said key players like Selwood had a big say in how the side functioned, with the club biasing its decision-making “toward players” over coaches on “50-50 calls”.

“They’re the ones that have got to execute it and they’re experts in their field.”

Geelong plays Fremantle tomorrow night beginning at 8.10pm at Optus Stadium.