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Cats have tough decision for grand final

By Sam Lienert 20/09/2008 02:04:39 PM Comments (0)

More AFL grand final selection heartbreak looms at Geelong as Paul Chapman tries to force his way back into the side.

Coach Mark Thompson took the unusual step after Friday night's preliminary final win over the Western Bulldogs to strongly endorse second-year player Travis Varcoe.

Before Friday night's game, Varcoe would have been the obvious choice to make way for Chapman, who missed with a hamstring injury.

But Thompson made it clear that Varcoe's excellent performance against the Bulldogs had shored up his place in the team.

"Travis won't go out. Travis wouldn't be considered, so we'll state publicly if he stays fit and doesn't get a virus he'll play next week," Thompson said.

"But again, every year, every club, whoever we play they'll probably have some tough decisions to make at the selection table too and that's a good position to be in, as hard as it is."

Thompson also said he was pleased with the performances of James Kelly and David Wojcinski, who returned to the side for Chapman and Brent Prismall (knee reconstruction).

So either Chapman will not recover in time for the grand final, or the Cats will make a massive selection call in order to recall him.

Last year, young ruckman Mark Blake was a controversial omission from the grand final team for Steven King.

Thompson on Friday night described Chapman as "90 per cent fit", while team-mate Cameron Mooney made it clear on Saturday morning that he expects the hard-working forward to be available.

"There is going to be a hard luck story because Chappy will obviously come in, so it will be disappointing for someone," Mooney said.

"We went through it last year with Blakey and we're going to go through it again this year with someone, I'm not sure who.

"It's going to be very difficult for someone."

Like Blake, Varcoe watched last year's drought-breaking premiership from the grandstand.

Varcoe said the disappointment of missing out on the grand final had not motivated him through the regular season.

He said he felt for Prismall and Matthew Egan, who has missed the entire season with a foot injury.

Prismall needed his reconstruction after badly injuring his knee in the qualifying-final win over St Kilda earlier this month

"I kept that (the motivation from missing the grand final) for pre-season, but during the season it hasn't worried me that much," Varcoe said.

"I play my role and the rest takes care of itself.

"It has been pretty hard, but I always try to think there are probably worse people off than me - poor old Matty Egan, I feel for him very much.

"'Pris', he was up in the stands with me last year as well, we watched it (the grand final). He was going really good, all the boys are feeling pretty sorry for him."

Varcoe earnt high praise from captain Tom Harley and Gary Ablett for his performance against the 'Dogs.

"He was fantastic ... he was one of those guys in the last quarter, when we didn't have a lot of run, he gave us a lot," Ablett said.

"It's probably the best game I've seen him play - and especially on the stage it was."

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