Geelong’s defence will be tasked with an onerous job on Saturday, shutting down the AFL’s most productive forward line.
But the challenge of facing in-form Adelaide in a crunch clash at home is being savoured by Tom Ruggles.
Ruggles is set to play his 13th game, having been upgraded off the rookie list earlier this year.
Few of those starts have been as important as the upcoming round-17 match.
Four premiership points and half a percentage point is all that separates seventh-placed Geelong and second-placed Adelaide on the ladder.
“Their forward line is probably the best forward line in the competition. We know we’ve got a big challenge,” Ruggles told AAP.
“But in saying that, I feel we’ve probably got the best defensive group in the comp. Harry Taylor, Tom Lonergan, Corey Enright and Andrew Mackie have all played a lot of games and won some flags.
“It’s going to be a great battle and one we’re definitely looking forward to.”
Cats coach Chris Scott has been forced to reshuffle his back line following Lachie Henderson’s concussion.
Andrew Mackie could find himself matching up on Tom Lynch, while small defender Jed Bews has been recalled in the absence of Henderson.
Bews has played only three AFL games this year but did a serviceable job on Crows livewire Eddie Betts in round eight, when Geelong recorded a 26-point win at Adelaide Oval.
“Last time we faced them, Tom Lonergan was knocked out in the first few minutes and we were still able to play how we wanted to play,” Ruggles said.
“It’s no different this weekend (having to adapt without Henderson).
“Obviously our last month has been inconsistent and we haven’t played that sort of football but we’re confident we can turn it around pretty quickly.”
Ruggles, who earned a rookie contract after winning Geelong’s VFL best and fairest award in 2015, suggested the calming influence of the club’s defensive generals helped him make the step up to AFL.
“It’s made my life a lot easier, having those guys there with so much experience,” the 24-year-old said.
“There’s been a few times in games when Harry has come up to me and helped me forget about a little mistake, focus on the next contest.
“Last week I had a good chat with Corey after an intense last quarter.
“He gave me some great advice about staying composed, not always trying to do the safe thing when the game is on the line.”