30/05/2024

Chris Scott. (Source: geelongcats.com.au)

12 months ago, Geelong coach Chris Scott sat in a Brisbane hotel facing the media before his side entered their third semi-final in four years.

12 months ago, Geelong coach Chris Scott sat in a Brisbane hotel facing the media before his side entered their third semi-final in four years. Today, in Perth, he faced the same press again, with the optimism and belief he had last year.

Tomorrow night, his side take on the same semi-final challenge they did in 2020, against a new team – the GWS Giants at Optus Stadium.

“We’re just in the business of moving forward and looking at the next challenge,” Scott said

“As we’ve said for the last 18 months, we’ve embraced the opportunity to spend time together. I think we’ve done that this week and we leave ourselves placed to perform well.”

Scott, who has led Geelong to the finals seven out of the last eight years, has been under scrutiny for the way his side under-performed in week one of the finals series.

However, the 45-year-old knows that how his team respond to the talk is all that really matters come game time.

“The scrutiny and stakes are higher at this time of year and that’s something that you have no choice but to lean into if you want to perform well,” Scott said.

“We tweak every single week, win, lose or draw. That’s not that different to any other week.”

The coach, who notched up his 11th year at the helm in 2021, admits that his side may have tried too hard to find the perfect balance last week, but looks to his inspiration to make the necessary adjustments.

“I’ve referenced the great John Wooden before, who was a college basketball coach in the US. His coaching style in the early days was one where he was trying too hard. That manifested in negative ways.

“It wasn’t until he lightened up and let things flow that their performances improved. I think there is something in that.”

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Scott’s vice-captain Patrick Dangerfield has also faced scrutiny this week, but the coach puts his full faith in the 2016 Brownlow Medallist, who suffered a nasty hand injury against Port Adelaide.

“We want Pat to narrow his focus on what makes him a super player. My support for him won’t diminish, no matter what happens.”

Cats captain Joel Selwood also breaks the all-time Geelong games record on Friday night, yet the coach knows his player’s full attention will be on competing as a collective.

“He’s been a super player for us, but what he wants from his teammates is to do everything we can to play well as a team, rather than doing it for the gipper.”

Yet Scott is nowhere short of being in awe of what the longest-serving captain continues to achieve.

“I’m getting a little bored. He seems to break a record every week,” he joked.

This is Geelong’s fourth semi-final in the last five seasons, as they aim for their third preliminary final in a row, buoyed by the return of important swing man Zach Tuohy, as well as key forward Esava Ratugolea, whose presence across the attacking half of the ground was missed against the Power.

Scott acknowledges that 2021 has been another unusual year, but wants to put the negative talk of last week behind him as his side play for a crack at Melbourne next week.

“We could focus on a whole range of things, but I don’t think any of them would be as important as embracing the opportunity we’ve got.”

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