Geelong’s star AFL midfield featuring Patrick Dangerfield will be key when Cats take on Hawthorn.To tag, or not to tag, that is the AFL question that will be posed at the MCG in Easter Monday’s big clash between Geelong and Hawthorn.
The Cats will unveil their much-hyped midfield superstar trio of Patrick Dangerfield, Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood for the first time after they played it safe with Dangerfield’s hamstring injury last week.
All three have commanded hard tags during their decorated careers, while the Hawks have their own prolific ball winner in Tom Mitchell.
The former Swan’s 54-possession effort in last week’s win over Collingwood has sparked much debate about when a coach should send a shutdown player to an opposition midfielder who is getting too much of the ball.
“If any one player becomes that influential on the game then they’ll try to negate his influence in some capacity,” Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson replied when asked if he expects the Cats to send a minder to Mitchell.
“But they’ll let the scoreboard determine that.
“That was the case with (Nathan Buckley) last week. They tried to do something with Tom, but he played that well that they were unable to curb his influence.
“That happens in games of footy … very rarely to do sides just let guys go, so we’ll probably have to do it to them at some stage and they’ll have to do it to us.”
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.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
The Hawks 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.