Geelong not out to target hurt Hodge - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Geelong not out to target hurt Hodge

By Sam Lienert 23/09/2008 07:58:49 PM Comments (0)

Geelong have no plan to line up a key Hawk's ribcage in their attempt to win Saturday's AFL grand final and settle the score from the epic premiership decider of 1989.

Despite Hawthorn star Luke Hodge preparing to be battered from the side at the MCG, Cats coach Mark Thompson said he was not the sort to encourage his players to physically target opposition.

"Do I look like that type of coach?" Thompson said.

"We're really going to try to play the best football we can play.

"Who knows whether that sort of stuff happens or not, it's almost irrelevant.

"We've got to concentrate on playing the best football that we are capable of playing and making sure we start that way and finish that way."

Hodge suffered two heavy blows to the ribs during last Saturday night's preliminary final against St Kilda, which resulted in him coughing up blood just before quarter-time.

But he played the game out and is a certain starter on Saturday.

His susceptibility to another bump has drawn predictions this year's grand final might resemble the one of 19 years ago, when Geelong's Mark Yeates ran through Hawk star Dermott Brereton at the opening bounce.

The tactic backfired, as Brereton stayed on the ground and booted an inspirational goal minutes afterwards, which helped the Hawks win one of the most physically brutal grand finals played.

Amid the forecast for more mayhem given several sides have tried roughing up the Cats this season and Hawthorn are famed for their physical presence, Thompson said Geelong had to be ready for anything.

"You've got to expect that that (rough stuff) may happen," he said.

"You've got to expect that it might be an open, fast game.

"It might be a really contested game and a real arm wrestle.

"You've just got to allow for everything and hope that your players adjust and feel the game and adjust to it.

"Our guys have been pretty good at that lately."

Besides not knowing what to expect from Hawthorn, Thompson said Geelong were enjoying the build-up to this year's grand final more than last year's, when the pressure was on to break their 43-year flag drought.

"It's been more of a normal week than last time," he said.

"The players have been through it and it's a different feel.

"It's just as exciting, but it's just the anxiety, the tension and the pressure - it's not as great certainly from a coaching point of view.

"I'm certain the players would say that as well."

Thompson said that experience was an advantage for his side, but he drew little relevance from the Cats' 11-point win over Hawthorn in round 17.

Geelong and Hawthorn were both without three players who are certain starters on Saturday - Gary Ablett, Darren Milburn and Cameron Ling for the Cats and Shane Crawford, Stuart Dew and Clinton Young in the brown and gold.

Meanwhile, Geelong have signed a new, five-year deal sponsor with Ford, the club's major sponsor since 1925.

By 2013 the deal will have given the Cats a partnership lasting 88 years, one of the longest sponsorships in world sport, but also one in direct competition to the AFL, which is backed by rival car manufacturer Toyota.

"We're very proud of Ford," Geelong chief executive Brian Cook said.

"It's a filip to be able to announce this in grand final week for both parties ... all 16 clubs, if they had the some opportunities, they would jump at it."

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