Judge us on 2009, say Cats - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Judge us on 2009, say Cats

By Adam Cooper 01/09/2009 06:59:35 PM Comments (0)

Judge us on 2009 and not last year's missed opportunity.

That's the message from Geelong, who believe their performance this AFL season should be assessed in isolation and not as the third chapter of a period of excellence.

The Cats won the 2007 premiership, were the stand-out side in 2008 but lost the grand final to Hawthorn, and enter the 2009 AFL finals one of five sides with genuine premiership aspirations, having finished the home and away season second behind St Kilda.

Missing out again would leave them with one flag from three superb campaigns and raise questions of under-achievement, much the same way Essendon of 1999-2001 had only the 2000 premiership to celebrate from three great seasons.

But Geelong captain Tom Harley said it was incorrect to compare the Cats of this season to the one that took all before them two years ago, as 2009 had been a challenging campaign.

"It is a different team and different feel, all those sorts of things, and different opponents every year," Harley said on Tuesday.

"This year has been a really even (season) and there are some great sides running around.

"If you win the flag this year - and we think we're certainly capable of that - it would be a great effort.

"To undersell any of the sides would be unfair.

"We've put ourselves in amongst the pack and we'll see how it all pans out in a month."

Compared to the previous two seasons, Geelong's campaign this year has been marred by injuries and patchy form since they were beaten by the Saints in round 14.

Add the credentials of the Saints, the Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Adelaide, and it was little wonder Cats coach Mark Thompson predicted enormous satisfaction if Geelong were triumphant on September 26.

"We're going to earn it this year if we're lucky enough to get there and it will be really special," he said.

Although 2009 has presented its challenges, Harley and Thompson were comfortable with the side's health and form entering the pointy end, beginning with Saturday's qualifying final against the Bulldogs at the MCG.

Thompson sensed the Cats had regained their mojo in beating Fremantle last Saturday, where Harley bolstered the defence and big man Brad Ottens and midfielder James Kelly made good returns from injury.

Forward Paul Chapman is a good chance to return from a hamstring injury to play the Bulldogs, while flankers David Wojcinski (ankle) and Max Rooke (quad) will be assessed at training on Wednesday.

Steve Johnson is the only first-choice Cat ruled out, after hip surgery last week, but Thompson was confident the forward could return in the club's next game.

Last year's defeat to Hawthorn at least could have a silver lining though, as Thompson said the Cats would not select players under injury cloud, like they did in the 2008 grand final where they paid the price.

"We've been conservative all year ... this time around we've got to pick a side that's going to give ourselves the best chance of winning," he said.

"Paul Chapman's obviously an important player and it would be great to have him play and we'll make that decision ... based on us believing he can get through the game.

"That's all we can deliver really."

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