Cats firing in this AFL finals series - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cats firing in this AFL finals series

Roger Vaughan 22/09/2011 07:40:26 PM Comments (0)

Geelong's fifth-straight AFL preliminary final feels more like an era, rather than a year, removed from last season.

Collingwood opened them up a year ago and won by 41 points, prompting widespread speculation that the Cats' great era was over.

That perception was reinforced in the days immediately after the season-ending loss as coach Mark Thompson and then star midfielder Gary Ablett left the club.

But the Cats are a different side heading into Saturday's preliminary final against West Coast at the MCG, where they will start strong favourites.

"I know going into last year's finals we had a few distractions and a few off-field things - it doesn't help," said star defender Matthew Scarlett.

"This year, everything has gone to plan and we're peaking at the right time of the year, which is a good sign - I'm really confident the boys will play well."

Under new coach Chris Scott, the Cats have changed their game style and are a reinvigorated side.

The midfield has coped brilliantly without Ablett, while veterans such as Scarlett have continued to star.

At 32, Scarlett made his sixth All-Australian side last Monday night.

Scarlett and fellow key defenders Harry Taylor and Tom Lonergan will have their hands full against the Eagles, who can stack their attack with tall forwards.

"It's a different challenge, but we have the tall defenders to cover it," Scarlett said.

"Us more than most sides, we have three quality tall defenders.

"We have a lot of experience in the back line, we've had a lot of challenges over the years and we've always seemed to overcome them.

"So we have another one this week and I'm confident the boys will do the job."

At Monday's All-Australian function, Scarlett said he would retire at the end of next season.

The other All-Australian selections for Geelong this season, James Kelly and Corey Enright, had slightly different takes on Scarlett's intentions.

"I think he said that the last couple of years, he keeps saying one more," Enright said.

"I'm sure if he puts in another year like he did this year, I don't think he'll be hanging his boots up.

"The way he plays, he's such a competitor, he could continue to play on - if he wishes to - for another three or four years, no doubt."

Kelly will also be keen to see the star full-back go on for longer, but stressed it would be entirely Scarlett's call.

"To a certain extent, you'd definitely let him know that we'd still like him in the side," Kelly said.

"But it really is Scarlo's choice - mentally and physically, if he feels he's not up to it on either front, then it's his choice to walk away.

"You can't pressure someone into doing something they don't want to do."

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