Cats promise big guns will blaze final - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats promise big guns will blaze final

By Guy Hand 08/03/2009 11:51:56 AM Comments (0)

Geelong have promised they will buck the trend of the AFL's much-maligned pre-season competition and launch their best possible team at rising Collingwood in Friday night's final.

Cats coach Mark Thompson signalled he would bring back several of the players rested for his side's hard-fought 2.9.12 (84) to 0.9.13 (67) semi-final victory over an understrength Carlton at Etihad Stadium.

Brownlow Medallist Jimmy Bartel and key players Joel Selwood, Corey Enright and Andrew Mackie all loom as inclusions as last year's grand finalists face a Collingwood side looking increasingly dangerous enough to make a serious finals tilt in the season proper.

Key Cats forward Cameron Mooney may also be recalled for his first match of the pre-season.

"We'll probably bring all the guys back that didn't play - Bartel, Mackie, Selwood," Thompson said.

"We've rotated four or five guys every game and probably our best 15 players have had a rest and we'll play our best side Friday night."

The match promises to be a much-needed pre-season competition filip, with Collingwood looking awesome at times in their 43-point win over Essendon in the other semi-final.

The worth of the NAB Cup and the pre-season challenge in regional areas for those eliminated from the main pre-season competition has been questioned after most clubs have squirrelled away their stars for rest at various points.

Carlton went into their semi-final against the Cats minus Chris Judd, Brendan Fevola, Marc Murphy and Bryce Gibbs.

But they were trumped by Hawthorn, who took a squad with only one of their premiership players to their NAB Challenge match against Adelaide in Berri in regional Victoria.

They borrowed a selection of no-names from second-tier VFL affiliate Box Hill to make up the numbers.

Despite Carlton fielding a weakened team, they pushed Geelong hard throughout their NAB Cup semi-final.

Geelong were sluggish but ultimately successful - Carlton were dogged but directionless in front of goal when it mattered.

Now Carlton are contemplating a journey to the West Australian town of Bunbury for their next pre-season match against Fremantle, and coach Brett Ratten questioned the timing of that road trip ahead of the season proper.

It means the Blues' full dress rehearsal for their opening home-and-away match against Richmond on March 26 will be done amid long cross-country flights and time zone changes at an irregular AFL venue.

But Ratten promised that in line with the Blues' strategy for the pre-season, they would field their strongest side in Western Australia.

"It's an interesting concept from the AFL. That's probably the hardest road trip of the NAB Challenge," Ratten said.

"We play the earliest game (in round one) and we've got to go to Bunbury and do a final rehearsal.

"It's quite interesting that we can't do a full dress rehearsal at an AFL ground ... I don't think Bunbury and Subiaco would have the same facilities.

"Probably the timing of that is pretty interesting for us."

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