Patrick Dangerfield is a big inclusion for Geelong in their AFL clash with Hawthorn.Geelong’s superstar midfielders have hogged the limelight in the lead up to Easter Monday’s big AFL clash, but Hawthorn won’t make the mistake of fixating on the Cats’ talented trio.
Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett will play together for the first time since Ablett’s move from Gold Coast after Geelong played it safe with Dangerfield’s hamstring injury last week.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson maintains he won’t go in with a preconceived plan to employ a hard tag on one or more of the midfield prime movers.
“That’s been a debate that’s been played out in the media throughout the course of the week … we’ll play out those scenarios as we go through,” Clarkson said on Sunday.
“The scoreboard will determine a lot of that – what’s happening on the scoreboard and how much is any one player or group of players contributing to their ability to get in front.
“It will just be horses for courses and if any one of those players, including (Mitch) Duncan … if we need to try to nullify their influence we’ll probably do it at some point during the game.
“They’ve all been outstanding players for a long period of time, but I think if we’re just trying to focus on three players we’re probably going to be in a bit of trouble.”
The Hawks have named the same 22 that scored a spirited win over Collingwood last week, but versatile young tall Ryan Burton, who rolled an ankle against the Pies, will need to pass a fitness test.
Dangerfield’s inclusion was one of three changes the Cats made to the side that scored a thrilling win over Melbourne.
Rhys Stanley and Jack Henry, who will debut, were also included, with Harry Taylor (foot) and Zac Smith and Jordan Murdoch (both omitted) dropping out.
The absence of Taylor from the back half is a significant blow for Geelong, who are already missing Lachie Henderson (knee) having farewelled defensive stalwarts Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan, who retired at the end of last season.
“At different stages I think we, and others in the wider football community, might have though that to be the case,” Clarkson replied when asked if the Cats’ undermanned defence could be exploited.
“But it’s got very little to do with the individual players at Geelong – it’s more to do with their system.
“Even without Taylor they’ll find some way to work together to make it difficult for us to score.”