20/04/2024

Geelong Cats key midfielder Mitch Duncan enters his 10th finals campaign this Friday night. (Source: Geelong Cats Website)

Geelong Cats star midfielder Mitch Duncan says he is privileged to make his highly anticipated return to footy during prime time on the AFL calendar.

Geelong Cats star midfielder Mitch Duncan says he is privileged to make his highly-anticipated return to footy during prime time on the AFL calendar.

And this Friday night’s second Qualifying Final between the Cats and Port Adelaide is as right a time as any for the 2011 premiership player to make his comeback.

Duncan, who has not played since injuring his knee in Geelong’s round 14 clash against the Bulldogs, has recovered over a 10-week period, preparing his body to peak as his team enters its 14th finals campaign since 2007.

“We let the [knee] ligament heal and heal it did. I was always going to play footy this week,” Duncan said.

“Some teams aren’t playing anymore, but I’ve just trained ten weeks to be in this exact spot. It’s a very privileged position to be in.”

Duncan’s rehabilitation period will see him through the game in his mid-forward role at Adelaide Oval, where the Cats fell short in last year’s Qualifying Final against the Power.

But the 30-year-old says that his side are not looking back, with the focus to keep the possession-driven game style that saw them overcome Port Adelaide in round 13, dominant.

“They’re a very well-coached side by Kenny [Ken Hinkley], so we’ve got to attack it from the first bounce. There’s no point waiting around.”

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Making Duncan’s return even sweeter is getting to play alongside good mate Tom Hawkins, who will notch up game 300 on Friday.

“He’s a close friend who I’ve played a lot of footy with. He deserves everything that comes his way,” he said.

And Duncan isn’t short of praise for the giant Cat who has kicked 657 goals and patrols Geelong’s forward line with class.

“He makes me look good more than I make him look good. His ability to read the play up the ground is the best we’ve seen from a forward at my time at the footy club.”

The Cats will leave Kardinia Park tonight to travel to Adelaide, where they will be in strict lockdown until game time on Friday night, before heading to Perth for the remainder of the finals series.

“We’re going to be away for a month to five weeks. We want it to be worth it in the end.”

Geelong is no stranger to the hub life, after spending more than 100 days of their 2020 season on the road. Duncan says his side are looking forward to the bonds they will forge again in lockdown.

“High performance hubs bring the best out of you. You have that hungry mentality to perform and galvanise each other,” Duncan said. 

After 233 games over 11 seasons, the return of Duncan adds more experience to the Cats line up, as he runs out beside longest-serving Geelong captain Joel Selwood, who is equalling the Geelong games record of 332, currently held by Corey Enright. 

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