Cats have sights firmly set on Barlow - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats have sights firmly set on Barlow

By Justin Chadwick 10/04/2010 09:32:18 AM Comments (0)

Two months ago Fremantle newcomer Michael Barlow was a no-name in the AFL.

But after a standout pre-season campaign and an equally impressive start to the season proper, the 22-year-old ball magnet will be a prime target when Geelong attempt to bring down the Dockers at Subiaco Oval on Sunday.

The Cats have carefully monitored the progress of Barlow, who has gathered an amazing 67 possessions over his first two AFL outings as Fremantle romped to wins against Adelaide and Essendon.

Barlow has already become a key component of the Dockers' resurgent midfield and Geelong assistant coach Brendan McCartney said No.1 tagger Cameron Ling was in line to get the job on the upgraded rookie.

"We are well aware of Michael's influence in the last two games," McCartney said.

"All the coaches were at the game on Sunday (against Essendon) and saw him have a big impact on the game just before half-time and certainly through the second half when he won a lot of ball and created a lot of opportunities for his team.

"So he'll certainly come into our planning."

Fremantle coach Mark Harvey said it would be a huge compliment if Ling was assigned to Barlow, who earlier in the week signed a two-year contract extension tying him at the Dockers until the end of 2012.

"That will be a strength of our team if we have players who need closer attention and therefore other players don't get that close attention," Harvey said.

Barlow experienced the class of Geelong's midfield first hand last month when the Cats unleashed an eight-goals-to-nil third-quarter blitz to beat Fremantle by 31 points in a practice match in Perth.

"I remember when he played that practice game against Geelong he stargazed at them because I think he barracked for Geelong and all of a sudden it hit him that he was playing against his side," Harvey said.

Geelong lost experienced pair Cameron Mooney and Matthew Scarlett through suspension after Monday's fiery win over Hawthorn and were dealt a further blow on Friday when ruckman Brad Ottens withdrew due to knee soreness.

Mooney's suspension paved the way for 28-year-old James Podsiadly to make his long-awaited AFL debut.

"He covers ground, he's a good one-on-one player and he's explosive," McCartney said of the former VFL star.

"He's got an ability to beat his man and he's a lovely shot at goal.

"It's a great story and a great example to other players around Australia who may not get opportunities at 18 or 19 and may have to wait until they're 22 or 23.

"The Dockers have shown that with some of their players."

Geelong will also blood 21-year-old, 206cm tap specialist Dawson Simpson, who will partner Mark Blake in the ruck to take on Fremantle giant Aaron Sandilands.

Dockers defender Chris Tarrant was named in the 22 after shaking off an ankle complaint, while Matt de Boer comes in for Garrick Ibbotson (shoulder) in the only change to the side.

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