By Luke Voogt
Joel Selwood appears set to miss yet another game due to a knee “niggle” with Geelong Cats looking to protect their skipper as finals approach.
“We’ve got great confidence that the little niggle he’s got around his knee is minor,” Cats coach Chris Scott said.
“But we’re at the stage of the season and he’s at the stage of his career – to be frank – as a 32-year-old, where we should only ask him to play when he’s close to 100 per cent capacity.”
But with four games still left in the season, the Cats would not take “any liberties” by resting him unnecessarily, Scott said.
He admitted Selwood was raring to go for tomorrow night’s clash with the Western Bulldogs at Metricon Stadium.
“He would play with no arms and legs if you left it completely up to him,” he said.
“We’ll give him a chance to train today and see how he goes and keep an open mind.
“But I think it’s unlikely. We’ve been through the situation with Joel in past, in particular last year, where we probably left the decision to play up to him too much.
“If we simply left it up to the player, they’d be out there every week and they’d do themselves a disservice, I think.
“There is an element of saving Joel from himself.”
“Having said that, I think he’s shifted a little bit from where he was, even last year and certainly a couple of years ago, where he just felt for the team to play well, he needed to be in the team leading the way, whether he was fit or not.”
Scott said he had great respect for the Bulldogs, especially after purple patches like their dominant six-goal third quarter against Melbourne last Saturday.
“Their midfield’s looking really, really strong. They’re a fast ball-moving team and they’re really dangerous when they get the ball on their terms.”
The inconsistent Bulldogs have a 0-5 record against the top eight sides this year but are coming off back-to-back wins.
Bulldogs forward Mitch Wallis said playing the Cats would be a good test of his side’s recent form.
“Geelong, I think, are one of the two or three teams that are the hot favourites to take it out this year, so we’ll definitely find out where we’re at.”
The Cats momentarily let their guard down on Sunday against last-placed the Adelaide Crows who, surprisingly, brought ferocious pressure to the clash.
But the Bulldogs defence will struggle to contain tall forward Tom Hawkins, who is in career-best form and leading the race for the Coleman Medal.
The Cats successfully challenged a one-match ban for former Bulldog Luke Dalhaus earlier this week for rough conduct for a tackle on Crows player Mitch Crouch.
In a lengthy hearing, the tribunal downgraded the suspension to a $1500 fine, giving Geelong the option of yet another dangerous small forward to support Hawkins.
Cats by 23 points.