Cats’ experience counts for nothing
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says Geelong’s experience and success in finals will count for nothing in Saturday night’s elimination final at the MCG.
The Cats have won three premierships in the past five seasons and beat a less experienced Fremantle by 69 points in the club’s last finals appearance in 2010.
Since 2007, Geelong has won 12 of 15 finals including the 2007, 2009 and 2011 Grand Finals, and the reigning premiers have been installed as strong favourites for Saturday night.
Lyon, however, wasn’t concerned by the Cats’ edge in finals experience and said Fremantle would focus on playing the football that has seen it win eight of its past nine games.
“Fortunately the past counts for nothing to be frank,” Lyon said on Monday. “When the ball is bounced we all start equal.
“We believe in our game-plan, we believe in each other, and we’re really looking forward to the challenge at the MCG when that ball’s bounced.
“I really believe in this group. It’s a great challenge, but one we’re up for.
“We always pay due respect to the opposition, but fundamentally it has been about us and our style of football.
“The way we play is the way we want to play with some slight tweaks.
“We’ll stand up, I’ve got no doubt about that.”
Lyon confirmed key defender Luke McPharlin would miss two to three weeks with a hamstring injury but said he hadn’t considered who would replace the 30-year-old.
Alex Silvagni and Antoni Grover, who has announced he will retire at the end of the season, are the leading contenders.
“We’ll clearly push him along, but it’s like everyone else … once you’re in rehab I tend to just drop you off,” Lyon said of McPharlin, who had been in All Australian form.
“I won’t pay too much attention to Luke from here. As brutal as that sounds, that’s the reality of it. We’ll deal with the ones in front of us now.
“He has had a great year so we will miss him, but it’ a great opportunity for someone else.”
Captain Matthew Pavlich is poised to complete his first main training session in weeks this Thursday after a battle with several leg complaints.
The star goalkicker, who ended the season three goals short of Richmond’s Coleman medallist Jack Riewoldt, said he took great confidence out of getting through Saturday night’s game against Melbourne unscathed.
“I was still a bit sore and I only trained lightly early in the week last week,” Pavlich said.
“But I’ve pulled up pretty well and I’m certainly aiming to train later in the week, probably Thursday before we fly out.
“Speaking openly, but that’s the first main training session I’ve had for a number of weeks, so I’m a lot better positioned than I have been in the previous few weeks.”
Lyon said applying pressure to the Cats’ ball-carriers and giving “the key defenders a chance to defend” would be crucial on Saturday night.
A veteran of 11 finals, including three Grand Finals, with St Kilda, he said the “expectation and cut-throat nature” of September contests set them apart.
“It gets really acute and it’s high pressure,” he said. “There is no next week for us if we lose. That’s the significant difference from home and away.
“There’s more focus, there’s less teams around, so it’s how you handle that and focus on what you need to.
“There’s plenty of players with experience here and coaches. We’ll have some young players but we’re not overly concerned.
“We’ll just go down and focus on what we need to do and play the footy we’ve been playing.”