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Pre-season GF no longer exciting Cats

12/03/2009 05:57:50 PM Comments (0)

Geelong's Cameron Ling says the AFL pre-season grand final was a buzz for the Cats three years ago, but is now primarily a chance to hone their "process" for the premiership season.

For Collingwood, the chance to bring some silverware to a club which has not added to their trophy cabinet since 1990 will be a significant incentive at Etihad Stadium on Friday night.

But for the Cats, most of whom were part of a drought-breaking day premiership in 2007 and last year's bitterly disappointing grand final loss, this year's night decider will lack the gloss of their 2006 pre-season win.

"We probably didn't know what to expect in `06, it was a bit new and exciting," acting captain Cameron Ling said.

"Now we're very strong about it just being part of our process.

"We're aiming this week to get our game style right, everything we've been working on over the pre-season.

"We're going to go in with a team very similar to what we'll have round one so we're going to make sure we play as well as we possibly can, work on the things we want to work on.

"We back that if we do that sort of thing then the result will go our way.

"We still want the result but it's more about getting the process right."

Coach Mark Thompson said the 2006 win over Adelaide had been a stepping stone towards greater success that followed.

"To experience that and get some silverware for the club was really important in the whole scope of things," he said.

It is a path the Magpies are keen to follow, new Collingwood skipper Nick Maxwell comparing his current side to those Cats.

"They've got a lot of guys probably an average age two years older than us at a guess, through the 24s to 26s, I think they've probably got more players (Of that age) than we have and they all came through together," Maxwell said.

"So we've got a lot of younger guys who have got a lot of games into them, between 50 and 100 games and we're expecting them to really step up over the next year."

But, like Ling, he said the major aim on Friday night was to build momentum for round one and beyond.

"We're just mostly thinking about how we can make the step from where we've been the last two years to where Geelong and Hawthorn are as the better teams in the competition," Maxwell said.

Collingwood added Maxwell, forward Paul Medhurst and midfielder Ben Johnson to their semi-final side, but No.1 ruckman Josh Fraser will again miss, while play-making defender Heath Shaw is out after being injured last weekend.

Coach Mick Malthouse said Fraser was "a bit sore" but refused to detail Shaw's injury or whether he would be ready for round one.

The Cats are near-full strength, including gun midfielders Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Selwood, Joel Corey and Ling.

But James Kelly (buttock strain) will miss, as will star forward Cameron Mooney, who has not played all pre-season, which coach Mark Thompson said was a concern.

"We wish he would have been right to play this match but he's not," Thompson said.

"Cam's a bit old and tired, he doesn't really like pre-seasons too much to be honest, that's the honest truth.

"He did get a bit of soreness about three weeks ago, he's just about over it but we didn't want to risk him in this match."

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