Coach Chris Scott has promised Geelong will be ready for their AFL preliminary final, regardless of the round 23 bye.
The Cats’ pulsating two-point qualifying final win over Hawthorn on Friday night gives them the week off ahead of their preliminary final.
Combined with the week off between round 23 and the finals, it means the Cats will play only one game in more than three weeks.
It is one of the reservations that clubs have had about the newly-introduced bye weekend before the finals.
But Scott revealed that Geelong had started planning for the unusual scenario before Friday night’s epic win over their arch-rivals.
“We’d rather have it than not,” Scott said of the extra rest.
“We’ve put some thought into it, without getting ahead of ourselves, and we think we’ve put together a pretty good plan.
“I guarantee you whatever happens on preliminary final, I won’t sit here and say it’s the round 23 the bye that killed us – we’ll be ready.”
Friday night’s win was their first in a final since 2013 and confirms Geelong are serious premiership contenders.
Lachie Henderson is likely to bolster their lineup for the preliminary final, with the key defender set to return from minor knee surgery.
Scott lauded the Cats after the lead changed seven times on Friday night in the second half.
Hawthorn’s Isaac Smith had a shot on goal after the final siren, but he could only manage a behind.
“That’s almost as good as footy gets, isn’t it?,” Scott said of the absorbing match.
“I feel for Isaac. That’s a horrible situation to be in.
“The game was just typical of a final – it was a contrast of styles, but still really fierce.
“It was just the team that could take the moment when it really counted that was going to prevail.”
The match was a fascinating contrast in game styles – while Geelong won contested possessions 170-118, Hawthorn dominated uncontested possessions 260-188.
Hawthorn also had more inside 50s, 56-47.
“Everyone in the competition knows that if they can relieve the pressure and control the ball, they’re really hard to stop,” Scott said of the Hawks.
“But they’re very good at that.
“So it’s one thing to say ‘we just have to cut that out’, it’s another to actually do it.
“There are a quite a few RFIs (room for improvements) for us from the game.”
While Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood starred, Scott also pointed out the importance of Cam Guthrie’s game.
Guthrie started in defence on Cyril Rioli and gave the Cats a big lift in the second half when he went into the middle.
“There’s a huge risk associated with that, but we thought Guthrie in the second half was as responsible as anyone for getting us back into it,” he said.
Scott also has little doubt that Hawthorn, the three-time defending premiers, remain big contenders.