Geelong coach Chris Scott says the primary task for the Cats on Saturday night will be to play as hard as they possibly can in what he expects to be a respectful return to AFL action for Adam Goodes.
Geelong have been in close consultations with the AFL, the players association and Sydney about how best to encourage good behaviour from the crowd at Simonds Stadium.
Goodes took a week away from the sport after being relentlessly booed by opposition supporters – a response which the dual Brownlow medallist believed was racially motivated.
A self-declared optimist, Scott expected the vast majority of Cats fans would refrain from booing Goodes.
“It’s been acknowledged that it’s an issue bigger than just Adam Goodes, bigger than the booing of an individual player,” Scott said on Wednesday.
“I think most reasoned people acknowledge that all the reasons for booing him in the past are different potentially to the reasons why you might boo him now.
“There can be no excuse for booing him in the future.
“So we’re really confident and hopeful that our supporters will support our players really strongly and be positive with our players, but be respectful of the opposition as well.”
Sydney will be looking to shore up a top-four spot while eighth-placed Geelong need to keep winning if they are to reach the finals for a ninth straight year, making it a season-defining clash for both clubs.
“Our players’ focus is on the game now,” said Scott.
“We are extremely respectful of the position that Sydney and in particular Adam Goodes find themselves in, and we’ll do everything we can to make sure they’re treated with the respect they deserve.
“Beyond that our focus is making sure we play as hard as we possibly can.”
Scott said he was unaware of any plan for players to stage a walk-off if the mood in the crowd turned ugly.
“If you’re talking really radical things like that, I tend to think they have the most impact if they’re organic and unplanned,” he said.
“Certainly from our perspective, to plan something like that, and potentially arrive at an outcome that’s contrived, is not the way we’re choosing to go.”