Harvey’s redemption song
Coach Mark Harvey says Fremantle’s crushing finals exit to Geelong at the MCG last year has not been forgotten as his side prepares for redemption at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
The Cats were emphatic 69-point winners in the second semi-final last season, humbling Fremantle in just its sixth finals match and suggesting a significant gulf still remained between Harvey’s men and the AFL’s elite.
Harvey said the loss had not been discussed among his players this week, but it should be at the back of their minds as they seek to start the season with consecutive wins after beating the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba last Saturday night.
“That’s in our memory … it’s got to be in your memory,” Harvey said from Fremantle Oval on Wednesday.
“A lot of effort had gone under the bridge throughout the season to get to that point and we would have liked to have put up a better performance than what we did.
“It shouldn’t be a talking point, it just should be there in bed.”
Saturday night’s clash will pit Harvey against former assistant Chris Scott, who was appointed Geelong coach last year after three seasons as a deputy at Fremantle Oval.
However, Harvey said Scott’s extensive knowledge of Fremantle would count for little when the sides meet this week.
“We’ve changed a few things since Scotty’s gone there, so we’ll wait and see,” the coach said.
“He has some more in-depth opposition knowledge than he normally would have, but that doesn’t mean a hell of a lot really.
“He was our defensive coach, so he’s got some knowledge about the way he thinks about the game. But it doesn’t necessarily translate into how he coaches overall.”
Scott has suggested this week that the Cats could use unexpected tactics to counter star Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands, and Harvey said he “hopes the umpires are watching”.
“I’m not taking the mindset of how they umpire Aaron, but there’s a lot of tactics that the opposition use against him and we’re fully aware of it,” Harvey said.
“He manages to overcome a lot of them (but) the umpires have got to recognise whether the ruckman is being held down. We’ll be watching that closely.”
Fremantle could welcome back tough defensive forward Matt de Boer this week after the latter stages of his pre-season were interrupted by a hamstring injury, while forward Jack Anthony and ruckman Jon Griffin were impressive in the WAFL.
Important utility Garrick Ibbotson looks likely to return from an ankle injury through the WAFL, while a return date for Alex Silvagni (stomach bug) is unclear, Harvey said.
The coach said his players had pulled up well from the biggest road trip in the AFL and he expected midfield stars Stephen Hill and David Mundy to play more game time this week after interrupted pre-seasons.
“I reckon maybe 10 or 12 of our players needed that hit-out, so I’d like to think we benefitted from it as a team,” he said.
“It was quite humid up there, slippery and a physical game [on a] long trip. But I don’t think it matters to our guys, we do that every second week anyway.”