The star Geelong billing known as Dangerwood now has a strong support cast.
It’s what the Cats have added around captain Joel Selwood and star recruit Patrick Dangerfield that makes their midfield a much tougher proposition for the Swans in Friday night’s AFL preliminary final.
The last time they played, the Swans celebrated Kieren Jack’s 200th game with a 38-point win over Geelong in round 16 at Simonds Stadium.
Geelong’s season had reached a tipping point, given they had come off the bye and an upset round-14 loss to St Kilda.
Dangerfield said they were nothing more than a mediocre side.
The Cats have been anything but mediocre since, winning eight-straight matches.
A fortnight after the Swans loss, journeyman onballer Sam Menegola finally made his AFL debut.
After taking months to recover from an ankle injury, Selwood’s younger brother Scott also played his first game for Geelong in round 20.
“It’s two great stories, coming from different angles,” Geelong midfield coach Matthew Knights said of the pair.
Cam Guthrie, who starred in the second half of the qualifying-final win over Hawthorn, and Josh Caddy are also in strong form.
“We’re fairly comfortable that our other five or six guys who filter through there (along with Dangerfield and Joel Selwood) have had strong years and are really strong in their own right,” Knights said.
“It’s going to be a really big game of a collective versus a collective – they’re a very strong unit and we pride ourselves on being pretty deep ourselves in the midfield.
“It quite crucial that we do get a good performance out of all players because the reality is 14 or 15 good players just doesn’t cut it in a final.”
Josh Kennedy starred in the midfield for Sydney last week with 42 possessions, but Knights noted their midfield also boasted Jack, Dan Hannebery, Luke Parker and Tom Mitchell.
Scott Selwood is a run-with specialist and he is the obvious choice to take Kennedy.
The two Selwoods’ push and shove with Hawthorn star Sam Mitchell was one of the highlights of their qualifying final.
“I reckon the two Selwoods might have done that in the backyard when they were younger, with the four brothers,” Knights said.
“That was just great to see, it was amazing to see, with the two Selwoods, (Luke) Hodge and Mitchell, guys going at it.
“It was quite exhilarating.”
But Knights added that given the depth and quality of the two midfields, a one-on-one duel for the whole match was unlikely.
“We endeavoured to do that with Mitchell but, in the end, those players like Joey (Kennedy) and Mitchell are so good, that they’ll end up on other players at stoppages and when the game moves,” Knights said.
“I’m sure at some stage on Friday night, they’ll be head to head.
“It will be a great contest, because they’re both warriors and, whichever way it goes, it will be a huge battle.”