Cats squad set to be culled for decider - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats squad set to be culled for decider

23/09/2008 06:18:44 PM Comments (0)

Geelong coach Mark Thompson has one player in his sights to be dropped for Saturday's AFL grand final against Hawthorn, and will advise him to draw comfort from Mark Blake's omission a year ago.

Paul Chapman's recovery from a hamstring injury and likely return to the MCG to help the Cats seek back-to-back premierships means the Cats will be forced into again making the heart-breaking decision to drop a play for the season decider.

Blake was last year's fall guy as he made way for fellow ruckman Steven King, and Thompson revealed he had narrowed the field of those who could make way for Chapman.

"There's only one," he said.

"He would have some idea."

The unlucky player could be any one of midfielder James Kelly, half-back David Wojcinski, small forward Mathew Stokes, marking forward Tom Lonergan or defender Harry Taylor.

Kelly, Wojcinski and Stokes all played in last year's drought-breaking premiership, while Taylor is a first-year player and Lonergan missed last year's campaign after he lost a kidney as a result of an on-field collision in 2006.

Thompson was prepared to tell the unlucky player on Wednesday, as he expected Chapman to prove at training he had overcome the hamstring problem which kept him out of last Friday's win over the Western Bulldogs in the preliminary final.

"We are confident," he said of the half-forward's prospects.

"We may as well let you know now that he ran at 100 per cent and did a fair volume of work yesterday and pulled up well today.

"The only thing he hasn't done is train with the group and he'll do that tomorrow ... and the players have asked the match committee and Paul himself to only play if he is fit and right to play.

"If he gets through tomorrow's training session which will be equal to everybody else, then he will basically be right to play."

Thompson said several of his Cats were on notice that their positions were not secure, but conceded one would be "awfully unlucky" to lose his place.

That was the case last year, when Blake played 22 games, including two finals, but lost his spot in the demolition of Port Adelaide to King, who was later traded to St Kilda.

Thompson said this year's omission should cast his memory back to how Blake eventually accepted the decision and improved to the point where he could not be dropped.

"I'm sure the player will be upset, but take it like Mark Blake did last year," he said.

"That was a great example.

"He was really upset with us and threatened to leave the club, but we talked him into staying and he decided to stay and it's worked out beautifully for him really."

Thompson said he wanted to make the decision soon so that everyone knew where they stood, but was planning to make one change to how he did things last year.

"Take a helmet," he deadpanned.

Chapman was out of action early because of hamstring problems in both the qualifying final win over St Kilda and the round 17 defeat of Hawthorn, the grand finalists' last meeting.

But Thompson said the 26-year-old was an integral member of the side who would be needed in the biggest game of this season.

"We know that Paul Chapman is a very valuable player, a good player, plays well in finals and in big games and thoroughly deserves his spot if he's fit," he said.

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