Experience will boost us: Cats' Harley - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Experience will boost us: Cats' Harley

By Roger Vaughan 21/09/2008 06:23:32 PM Comments (0)

Geelong expect last year's grand final week experience will be a definite advantage as they gear up for their AFL premiership defence.

Cats captain Tom Harley said those who try to take the lead-up to the match as a normal preparation are "kidding themselves".

While Geelong broke a 44-year premiership drought last year, this will be Hawthorn's first grand final since their 1991 flag.

"The pinnacle of the job is next Saturday and we've got an extra 24 hours on (Hawthorn)," Harley said.

"We'll make sure we utilise that the best we can and enjoy the week.

"It's a different week, I think the people who say it's just another game are really kidding themselves.

"We've got the Brownlow on Monday night with seven guys going, we've got training, there will be blue and white all throughout the town, which is fantastic."

The much-respected Geelong captain also gently chided the Cats faithful, saying there had been an element of "Sleepy Hollow" around the town during the finals series.

But Harley is confident the Geelong fans will fire up now the grand final is upon them.

"They've been a bit slow on the uptake down in Geelong, I reckon," he said.

"There were a few flags, but hopefully they all come out this week.

"I reckon it has been (sleepy hollow), but I've got a feeling that it might change ... we feel the support, they will be out in force."

Geelong made the grand final with a hard-fought 29-point win over the Bulldogs in Friday's preliminary final.

Ruckman Brad Ottens admitted it was far from the Cats' best form and said they would have to improve for Saturday, but added it was the perfect hitout.

"There's a lot of improvement left for us on the performance we had," Ottens said.

"To our credit, we kept grinding it out and kept battling away, but there are a few things we need to improve.

"It's good for any team to have a gutsy win like that, to overcome a team that throws everything at you and pushes you to the limit.

"If it wasn't for a couple of missed shots at goal in the third quarter, they were close to only being a couple of points down."

Ottens, who was unlucky not to make last year's All-Australian team, missed the first nine games of the season with a foot injury.

But he has played every game since and was impressive again against the Bulldogs.

"It was frustrating, to start the year like that," he said.

"It's never good to be injured, but I'm happy it was the start of the year and not the end of the year, it's worked out well."

It has also worked out extremely well for his young ruck sidekick Mark Blake, the controversial omission from last year's grand final team at the expense of Steven King.

Blake has played all 24 games this season.

"From what he went through last year, I couldn't imagine how disappointed he must have been," Ottens said.

"He's just taken it all before him this year, kept improving and kept working.

"He's been fantastic and it's a credit to him."

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