Thompson finds grand final lead-up tough - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thompson finds grand final lead-up tough

By Guy Hand 26/09/2008 07:49:07 PM Comments (0)

Geelong coach Mark Thompson has made a startling admission as his team prepares for their shot at back-to-back AFL premierships - he doesn't enjoy grand final week.

Thompson said the lead-up has been "a game before the game" as he juggles media commitments and other demands from outside, while making tough calls on team selection, as well as trying to plot the downfall of Saturday's opponents Hawthorn.

"This week, a lot of people say `go out and enjoy it'. Well, I haven't enjoyed it to be honest," Thompson said.

"It's been a really hard, long week, you can't hide from that fact.

"There's a game before the game, and that's what we've tried to really manage well ... try to give the boys the best possible chance to turn up in a good frame of mind tomorrow."

At least the Geelong coach did not have to deal with the niggling tactics he had to endure last year from Port Adelaide counterpart Mark Williams at Friday's joint media conference for the two coaches and captains.

Relations between Thompson and Hawthorn counterpart Alastair Clarkson were civil and cordial - and there were none of the mischievous cracks Williams used in an attempt to unsettle the Cats coach ahead of last year's decider.

Thompson admitted the toughest it got this week was telling defender David Wojcinski his services would not be required at the MCG on Saturday - the speedster making way for returning star Paul Chapman.

"It's not an easy job, but it's one that has to be done," Thompson said of telling Wojcinski of his omission.

"He desperately wants the club to win. He knows the club is bigger than the individual."

Wojcinski is one of the Cats' three emergencies, and took part in the traditional grand final parade through Melbourne's city centre on Friday.

But that would appear as close as he will get to being part of the grand final team, with Thompson said there was little chance the Cats' selected 22 would change unless something unforeseen happened in the next 24 hours.

"We're probably 90 per cent sure it will be the team. You've got to leave 10 per cent because people can get sick overnight," Thompson said.

"As far as all the boys coming up from last week's game, we're fine."

The odds of any late changes lengthened further after the Cats emerged unscathed from their final hitout at the MCG on Friday afternoon - a light 45-minute session.

Injury concerns Chapman and forward Travis Varcoe appeared to train fully and freely.

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