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King can't wait for a crack at Cats

By Roger Vaughan 21/09/2009 05:16:00 PM Comments (0)

St Kilda ruckman Steven King does AFL grand finals the hard way.

Two years after edging out Mark Blake for a spot in Geelong's 2007 premiership team, there will again be an intense focus on how he performs on Saturday.

Back in 2007, King played in Geelong's VFL and AFL flag-winning teams in the space of a week, only to be traded to St Kilda a few days later.

Now he will ruck against Blake and Brad Ottens in the 2009 grand final and, despite the pressure, King is relishing the opportunity.

"I probably dreamed about it, it's something any player would love to have the opportunity to do - come up against their old side in a grand final," he said on Monday.

"I have the opportunity this week so I'm just going to really enjoy it and look forward to it, embrace the whole week.

"I have some great mates who still play at Geelong, but I have some great mates here and this is where I've been for a couple of years, so I've moved on."

King played down the inevitable questions about Blake, insisting there was no personal rivalry.

"I've moved on, that's history now, I'm fortunate now to be in a position where I'm at a club like St Kilda, that has been thereabouts the last couple of years," he said.

Despite playing against team-mates with whom he shared a premiership only two years ago, the former Cats captain feels the lead-up to this grand final will be easier for him.

"There was probably a bit more pressure on me last time, due to circumstances," he said.

"I had a fair bit to deal with, playing in the VFL grand final on the Sunday and then unaware of what was going to happen up until the Wednesday or Thursday.

"Last time I just enjoyed the whole experience, this time I think I'm a bit more relaxed, obviously a bit more mature now as a person and player."

King is among a handful of Saints with grand final experience who will mentor their team-mates on how to handle the big match.

He feels for veteran defender Max Hudghton, who has not played since round 20 and looms as the hard-luck story this week at Moorabbin.

"I've had a couple of chats to Max during the year and it's a very tough situation," King said.

"Just for him, he's been great around the place, just to work as hard as you can, you never know what's around the corner.

"He's been a champion of this club, but the way he's gone about it, he's still training really well ... and with selection this week, who knows what's going to happen."

The Saints dropped midfielder Luke Ball twice this season, but he has played in the two finals and should hold his spot.

But Ball is taking nothing for granted, even though coach Ross Lyon declared on Sunday he was a certain starter against Geelong.

"I didn't hear it live, in fact (an official) just told me then he said something like that, but we'll see what happens later in the week, won't we?" Ball said.

Ball admits there were times this year when he thought he might struggle to force his way back into the team.

"I'm human - no doubt, those thoughts cross your mind, but Ross has said all along that if you anyone starts getting thoughts like that, use that as a trigger to refocus (yourself) on your preparation for that week," Ball said.

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