By Luke Voogt
Geelong Cats will be without champion midfielders Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett when they take on Fremantle next Monday.
The Cats skipper is expected to miss several weeks with a hamstring injury while Ablett has returned to Geelong to be with family as son Levi battles a degenerative disease.
Vice-captains Mark Blicavs and Patrick Dangerfield will take the reins in Selwood’s absence.
But Blicavs said on Tuesday he was happy to leave inspiring the Cats to his star midfielder teammate.
“I haven’t spoken to Paddy yet, I’d be happy to do the coin toss and let Paddy do the speech,” he said in a press conference ahead of training.
“I gave the boys a bit of a rev-up two days before the game against Collingwood and it was a train wreck.
“I didn’t know what I was saying, we had a good laugh and joke about it.
“It was one where Scotty (coach Chris Scott) came up to me and said, ‘the best speeches are not often planned, but a little bit of planning needs to go into them’.”
The return of Tom Stewart, which Cats football general manager Simon Lloyd described as “highly-likely” for next Monday, should bolster the side’s defensive morale.
Blicavs described Stewart’s recovery from a collarbone fracture sustained three weeks ago as “amazing”.
He looked forward to the All-Australian defender taking intercept marks and helping the Cats rebound with his “entertaining” run off half back.
“He always has some highlights in every game he plays,” he said.
“Not only that, he’s a … great leader for our backline and the team.”
While the loss of Selwood and Ablett will hurt the Cats, the likely return of midfielder Mitch Duncan will help offset that.
Blicavs said Ablett and Selwood’s absence would also give provide opportunities young players like Sam Simpson, who was one of the Cats’ best last week in their loss to Collingwood.
“I think all 46 players up here are expecting to play and are preparing themselves to play, and have been training that way.”
The Cats are approaching the end of their 14-day quarantine and Blicavs said he was keen to head out for coffee, a cycle and some fast food when it ended.
“I don’t mind a bit of Red Rooster, so I might head there,” he said.
Last Thursday Collingwood’s ability to rebound hurt Geelong, Blicavs said.
He said the Cats planned to lock the ball in their forward 50 next Monday to prevent Fremantle doing the same.
Geelong will face an even more hostile atmosphere at Optus Stadium than the pro-Collingwood crowd of more than 22,000 last Thursday.
The Cats will have to get used to crowds barracking against them, with no more games to be played in Victoria this season.
Geelong go into this match as favourites as Fremantle have struggled this season
The Dockers’ midfield will be more dangerous if captain Nat Fyfe returns from a hamstring injury, but the Cats should still get the job done.
Geelong by 17 points.