GEELONG will attempt to ride their fresh wave of momentum as they tackle a month crucial to their hopes of keeping pace with the AFL’s top teams.
The fourth-placed Cats sit 4-2 after backing up a scrappy win over North Melbourne by thrashing West Coast but will travel to take on Sydney, then play Richmond and St Kilda in Melbourne before hosting Gold Coast.
Coach Chris Scott wouldn’t label Geelong’s upcoming month as particularly season-defining – given they then play Collingwood, Port Adelaide, the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane – but emphasised the importance of banking early wins.
“The smart Alec answer is yes this is season-defining but I think that the next month will be just as season-defining – every game feels like a big game these days,” Scott said.
“It’s hard to win the premiership – impossible to win the premiership in the first two months but you can fall so far behind and it makes it really really difficult, not just in a practical sense but from an emotional, momentum perspective.
“If you’re not getting the wins on the board and you’re falling a bit further behind, that sort of puts pressure on – some of which is real, and some is kind of imagined.
“…That’s the art of coaching – working out what is real, what do we actually need to address and what’s just noise.”
Scott said it was difficult to “forecast” whether the Eagles win, where Jeremy Cameron made his long-awaited debut, was a turning point but still expected more improvement with increased cohesion.
“We weren’t panicking when we didn’t think we were on top of our game post the North game – we won by 30 points, it wasn’t a disaster,” Scott said.
“And we’re not in love with ourselves now because we executed much better against the Eagles.
“… We’re still working on our game, it’s still evolving – I think we’ll be playing slightly differently in 10 weeks’ time to what we are now because the game just evolves that quickly.”
Shaun Higgins (hamstring/thumb) won’t return against the Swans but should be available to face Richmond the following week.
Scott expected Patrick Dangerfield (syndesmosis) to be sidelined for close to eight weeks while Mark O’Connor (hamstring) will miss at least two to three weeks and Jake Kolodjashnij (knee) is unlikely to take on Sydney.
Jordan Clark appears the most likely to replace O’Connor, with Quinton Narkle, Max Holmes and Charlie Constable also in the mix – while Zach Guthrie could come in for Kolodjashnij, whose absence will force a “reshuffle”.
(C) AAP 2021