As Geelong and St Kilda prepare to face off in a potentially crucial game, Patrick Dangerfield is pleased to welcome back some midfield reinforcements.
Captain Joel Selwood joins Rhys Stanley as inclusions for Geelong. The ruckman and midfielder will be vital to combating St Kilda’s duo of Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall. The pair of big men have been key components to the Saints’ strong start to the season.
“Selwood’s been a decent player throughout his career,” Dangerfield told the media with tongue firmly in cheek.
“We’re very excited to welcome him back. He’ll probably start on the bench then we’ll see what he can give us on field.
“Rhys (Stanley) is obviously a really important player for us.
“We’ve asked a huge amount of Blitz (Mark Blicavs) in his time at the club… He does it all and was phenomenal on the weekend. But we can’t ask that every week, he is our superman, but it’ll be nice to have Rhys back as well.”
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Dangerfield described Ryder as “about as good as it gets at the moment” in the ruck.
“He can put it pretty much anywhere, so we’re very cognisant of what he can do,” he said.
Despite this threat, the Geelong gun is confident in his fellow midfielders.
“You’ve still got to focus on your own game. What becomes critical is the bodywork and the respect that you have for your opponent,” Dangerfield said.
“It’s on our rucks to nullify that and give us an opportunity where possible. Every game starts at the contest and we’re going to be winning our fair share.”
Geelong and St Kilda are only separated by percentage on the AFL ladder. Both have five wins from eight games and Saturday’s encounter at Marvel Stadium could be crucial to both sides’ top-four hopes.
“Every week is important, the competition is quite even. I think everyone understands at the moment that Melbourne is the benchmark, but it’s pretty even after that,” Dangerfield stated.
“We’re in that pack, so it’s critical for us to make sure that we’re ticking off these wins. Last week was an important one.
“St Kilda has had a pretty good season as well, they play Marvel very well. We really need to be at our best to compete and win the game.”
“It’s a mouth-watering matchup”
Geelong comfortably defeated GWS last week despite missing Stanley. Mark Blicavs spent the majority of the game in the ruck. According to Dangerfield, he could be moved back against Saints forward Max King.
“I hope so,” the star midfielder said when asked he if thought Blicavs would get the match up.
“I don’t spend a huge amount of time with the defenders and how they’re gonna review that previous game. That will probably continue to be the case.
“It’s a mouth-watering (matchup)… It’s a game within a game. It’ll be great to see how it’s going to unfold.
“Typically, we play a team defence, so there’s going to be players that will roll through different opponents so I suspect that will be the case.
“But at the same time, I reckon we might see a couple of 200cm key forwards and key backs play on each other at some stage as well.”
Another defensive option Geelong has is Sam De Koning. The tall defender has secured his place in the Cats’ side this season. His contested and intercept marking has made him a favourite among Cats fans.
“He’s been terrific, he’s had to bide his time, but his ability to defend one-on-one, that reach that he’s got, we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg with what he’s going to able to produce on a regular basis at an AFL level,” said Dangerfield.
As for Dangerfield’s own form and fitness, the former Brownlow medallist has no issues following a calf injury. The depth that Geelong has developed has allowed him to return to the side fully fit.
After a strong return in Round 8, Dangerfield hopes his time on the sidelines is over.
“I think I’ve clocked mine in now, ideally, I’d like to play right through,” he said of his rest.
“I think it’s important to make those nature decisions if a player isn’t right to go, we’re in a fortunate position.”
Geelong travels to play St Kilda on Saturday at 4:35 pm.
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