Cats eye balance in finals run

Joel Selwood at training on Tuesday. (Louisa Jones) 241589_22

By Luke Voogt

Geelong Cats face a balancing act between managing players and “scrapping” for a top four spot as finals approach, according to coach Chris Scott.

“There’s no room to pace yourself too much,” he told a press conference on Tuesday.

“We have too much respect for the competition and just how difficult it is.

“We feel like we’re fighting and scrapping for those top spots up on the ladder.

“I guess the part that we do give some consideration to is how we manage our players.

“You don’t want to wear your players out in what is a long and arduous season and sort of stumble over the line.

“You want to be firing at the end of the day, but if you take too many liberties, you end too far down the ladder to really compete at the end of the year.

“We’ve been working a little with our development of young players and our list management.”

Unfortunately, some of that “management” had resulted from injuries, particularly with Patrick Dangerfield, Jeremy Cameron and, most recently, reliable midfielder Mitch Duncan, Scott said.

“It’s tough. I’ve always been a believer that it’s impossible to replace your best players like-for-like, and Mitch is certainly in that category,” Scott said of Duncan’s recent knee injury.

“Shaun Higgins, amongst others, are the type of players that we’re considering. We haven’t completely decided what it’s going to do to us structurally.”

Despite speedy young defender-mid Jordan Clark playing more in the midfield in the VFL recently, Scott said he and Duncan “tend to play different positions”.

“We’re keen to have him in the side at some point.

“Right at the moment he’s probably just a little bit behind some of the midfielders vying for that position that Duncan will vacate.”

Scott was cautiously optimistic with the Cats third on the ladder after consecutive wins against top four contenders Western Bulldogs (second) and Port Adelaide (fifth).

“We’re far from entrenched in that part of the ladder right at the moment,” he said.

“We think it’s going to be a real challenge over the last part of the season – I suspect that there are eight really good teams vying for spots in the top four.”

Chris Scott defended captain Joel Selwood, who was fined a total of $3000 for hitting and scraping Bailey Dale’s head and face, and scraping Taylor Duryea’s shin with his studs, in two separate incidents against the Bulldogs last Friday.

“Humans in general, but footy players, even good ones, captains, legends of the game, make mistakes and they should put their hand up for that, which is what Joel did, in particular, with one of those incidents,” Scott said.

“But the second one, where he accidentally stood on someone, was a genuine mistake and I think it’s actually incumbent on people in the footy industry to treat Joel Selwood with a level of respect, whereby when he says something, they believe him.”

The champion, admired for his toughness, drew criticism for the behaviour from media commentators and Duryea during the week.

“He handles it like the ultimate pro, so it won’t have any bearing on him at all,” Scott said.

“But I think the broader issue over the long term – if people are saying with a straight face that that tarnishes his reputation, I think that reflects more on them then it does on him.

“Joel’s an icon of the game and his reputation is important to him, and it’s important to us.”

Geelong takes on Brisbane Lions at the Gabba tomorrow night.