GWS Giants defender Joel Patfull expects North Melbourne’s cull of four veterans will add emotion to their AFL final-round clash on Saturday, but he doesn’t think it’ll make the Kangaroos harder to beat.
The Giants, sitting fifth, take on the eighth-placed Kangaroos at Etihad Stadium three days after North’s announcement that they won’t re-sign AFL games record holder Brent Harvey, fellow forward Drew Petrie, midfielder Nick Dal Santo and defender Michael Firrito.
“We know that there will be probably be a bit of extra feeling and the crowd will probably get involved when those players go around the footy,” Patfull said on Friday at Sydney Airport.
“But we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do and just move on.”
Asked if the fallout from the midweek drama would make the Kangaroos tougher to beat, Patfull said “I don’t think so”.
“I think this time of year, it’s a big game for both teams as well – we’re all getting ready for finals.”
Key forward Petrie made it clear on Friday he hadn’t yet been too emotionally affected by the decision on his future and was concentrating on the Giants.
“That’s where the focus is at the moment for me,” Petrie said.
“There hasn’t been any tears roll down my cheek yet, but maybe when I walk off the ground for the last time, that might occur.
“For the moment, I’m very much in game mode and focused on the task.”
To make the top four, GWS must win and hope at least one of the teams above them loses.
If they win but don’t crack the top four, they will host North in the first week of the finals.
“Hopefully, if we do the work and we can get over the line, then some results will fall our way and we might sneak into the top four,” Patfull said.
The Kangaroos have won all five previous encounters against GWS with an average winning margin of just under 75 points.
“There’s no real reason why they have beaten us,” Patfull said.
“But we haven’t played them this year so far, so I think it’s another challenge for our team and we’re looking forward to that.
“It’s a big game and we’re approaching it as our first final, so its a really big test for us.”
The Giants will field an unchanged side.
For the Kangaroos, Shaun Higgins and Luke McDonald return from long-term injuries, but Scott Thompson has been ruled out with an adductor injury and Brad McKenzie has been omitted.