Beware the wounded Cats.
That was the overwhelming message from Adam Simpson’s press conference at Mineral Resources Park today.
West Coast’s senior coach said his charges were preparing for a “big battle” against the minor premiers at the MCG on Friday night.
They might have lost their qualifying final clash with Collingwood last week, but Geelong was still the competition’s benchmark, according to Simpson.
“They’re not going anywhere, Geelong. The way they play stands up.” Simpson said.
“They’re number one at clearances and contested possession and that’s based on how they go about it. They’re very honest, hardworking and they’ve got talent. That’s why they finished on top of the ladder.
“They might have been disappointed that they didn’t get a win, but it was getting pretty close there in the last 10 minutes. Collingwood didn’t score in the last 60 minutes. (The Magpies) had four inside 50s in the last quarter.
“We’re looking at a lot of elements that makes them really strong.”
While Simpson will undoubtedly spend plenty of time scouting the Cats, he also has plenty to ponder regarding team selection ahead of the Eagles’ flight to Melbourne on Wednesday.
West Coast rolled the dice on a number of players last Thursday night.
Nic Naitanui played his first game in seven weeks following an ankle syndesmosis injury, while run-with specialist Mark Hutchings and skipper Shannon Hurn lined up against Essendon after incurring hamstring tweaks in rounds 22 and 23 respectively.
But the influential trio got through the game unscathed and, as a result, are better placed for Friday night’s semi-final stoush.
With so many players fit and available for selection, Simpson reckoned tomorrow’s match committee meeting would be a long one.
“We had some real selections issues last week with some injuries. We took a few risks,” Simpson revealed.
“We were really pleased that we got through the game. Now it’s down to form and what’s the best match-up for the Cats.
“I think we had 27 to choose from last week with our squad, with the numbers we held back from WAFL. We’ll be similar again this week.
“We managed probably four players last week in the WAFL on Sunday – it’s a five-day break from that game – and we held a couple over.
“We’ve got main training today. We will work through it all, see how the match-ups look and go from there.”