Ling, Jones set for vital tagging roles - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ling, Jones set for vital tagging roles

23/09/2009 07:29:09 PM Comments (0)

Clint Jones and Cameron Ling saw previews last weekend of the horror that awaits them if they fail to execute their AFL grand final roles.

Last Friday night, Ling took careful note as St Kilda's Lenny Hayes imposed his will on the preliminary final against the Western Bulldogs.

Saints captain Nick Riewoldt was the hero with four second-half goals, but Hayes gave them the vital turbo boost.

The following night, Jones was a spectator as new Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett starred for Geelong in their preliminary-final romp against Collingwood.

St Kilda's Jones and Geelong's Ling will go through their video analysis this week and wait for the final word from match committee about their grand final tasks.

But as their team's best taggers, the most obvious assignments are Jones for Ablett and Ling for Hayes.

"They're a good-quality team with lots of blokes who can play through there (the midfield) and play good footy," Ling said.

"That will be told to me by the coaches on Friday, so I will just wait and see, I will do my normal thing of looking at a number of players during the week and then whoever Bomber and the coaching staff feel I'm best suited to, they will tell me Thursday or Friday.

"Lenny is a terrific footballer ... he plays the game the right way, he plays it nice and hard and works very hard at what he does.

"He's got some great help there with a really good midfield around him, they're a very good team."

While Ling has been the Cats' main tagger for several years, and earned an All-Australian selection, Jones has blossomed in the role this season.

In his third AFL season, 25-year-old Jones has kept improving and has rarely let an opponent beat him.

"It's probably no different to how I would prepare for any other player, he (Ablett) is a fantastic player, but whoever I get, I will watch the vision from the last couple of weeks and really see how he goes about it," Jones said.

"Throughout the year, the different players you play on, you do get a little bit of confidence week-in, week-out if you can get the job done.

"He runs hard, works really hard, he's good around stoppages - whoever gets him is going to pay some attention to him."

Ling and Jones stressed that whoever they run with on Saturday, team-mates will also have a key role.

Anywhere on the ground, a match-up is no longer a simple one-on-one duel as game tactics have continued to evolve.

Blocks, stoppage setups and rotations have made it particularly important for defensive midfielders such as Ling and Jones to work effectively with team-mates, or else risk losing their star opponent "in traffic".

"Every player in the Geelong team relies on his team-mates and Gary is probably the best at admitting that," Ling said.

"He's a fantastic footballer, an absolute champion, but he says his job is made 100 times easier by his team-mates who help him out - it's the same with me, it's the same as Matty Scarlett, it's the same with Cameron Mooney, wherever you play on the ground."

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