North Melbourne coach Brad Scott doesn’t care what Geelong’s injury list, win-loss record or bookies say, Kardinia Park is still a formidable place to win an AFL match.
The Kangaroos are strong favourites to earn just their second win in Geelong for a decade and Scott’s first as coach.
In fact, it’s been nine seasons since Geelong was longer odds (currently $2.35 with Sportsbet) to win at the Cattery.
That was 66 matches ago against eventual 2006 premiers West Coast, which arrived with an 8-1 record to play the 11th-placed Cats.
It’s a mark of how well the Kangaroos have progressed but Scott suggested until they’d actually earned the win, such talk was premature.
Scott said Geelong’s gritty win last round over Gold Coast showed the Cats are far from a spent force.
“The discussions around their death have been premature,” he said.
“I wouldn’t think playing Geelong this week we’d have any more confidence than any other week.
“That win against the Gold Coast was full of merit, full of courage and character.”
You could say the same thing about North Melbourne’s tense loss to Port Adelaide – and Jack Ziebell.
Ziebell spent two nights in hospital after a crunching tackle against the Power left him with a bruised lung but Scott said he was in contention for Sunday’s match.
“We’ll give him every opportunity and the way he’s recovered, we’re really optimistic,” Scott said.
“He’s feeling terrific, he feels like he could play today.
“The doctors and the sports science guys have some pretty specific tests around lung function.
“We’ve got to make sure he’s lung function is right and there’s no risk.”
Daniel Wells and Jamie Macmillan (both Achilles) are likely to be named ahead of fitness tests later in the week.
The Cats’ non-starters for Sunday’s match include Jimmy Bartel, Andrew Mackie and Mathew Stokes, while the club isn’t sure whether Tom Hawkins’ compassionate leave will extend to Sunday.
The twin brothers faced off in a memorable semi-final last season, won by the Kangaroos.
Scott said watching a replay wasn’t on his agenda in the lead-up to their next meeting.
“It was only a few AFL games ago but it feels like an eternity ago,” he said. “Footy changes too quickly for that … Geelong have changed and we’ve changed as well.”
Both sides have started their seasons with one win and two losses.