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No Danger tag, but China syndrome the great unknown in Cats clash

Football

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley has ruled out deploying a tagger on Geelong’s star onballer, Brownlow medallist and former crosstown rival Patrick Dangerfield.

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“We just play the way we have to play,” Hinkley told reporters at Adelaide Airport.

“Dangerfield, (Joel) Selwood, (Mitch) Duncan, (Tom) Hawkins, (Stephen) Motlop … you go crazy sometimes worrying about them.

“Our greatest strength this year has been to worry about what we do and we are going to stay in that space.”

Geelong won’t use the AFL fixture as an excuse if tomorrow night’s clash against Port Adelaide at Simonds Stadium doesn’t go their way.

The Cats are coming off a six-day break following their win over the Western Bulldogs, while the Power enjoyed a bye round after their historic win over Gold Coast in China.

But coach Chris Scott isn’t interested in arguing the merits of pitting his team against a side coming off a 10-day rest.

“We’ve said publicly a number of times that we won’t be a club to use the draw or six-day breaks as an excuse for poor performance… we’ll be ready to perform,” Scott said.

“The draw is so complicated and it is really, really easy to find the faults in it and it is much, much harder to propose the solutions.

“I think in principle the AFL tries to reduce those sorts of scenarios. In this particular situation I guess it’s unprecedented.

“One team is coming off the bye, one team is coming off a six-day break, but the team coming off the bye went to China so I think that would have had some sort of impact as well.

“There would be a little bit of a sense of the unknown.

“I think the fixture stuff is a little bit overplayed publicly. We’re ready to play well and we won’t make excuses if we don’t.”

The third-placed Cats opened a refurbished Simonds Stadium with a hard-fought win over the Dogs to snap a three-game losing run, with Port back in sixth spot with just one less win.

Scott is wary of the Power’s multi-pronged attack and will go in without a key weapon of his own after Nakia Cockatoo injured a hamstring against the Dogs.

“He is unavailable this week … the early signs are that it’s very minor,” Scott said.

“I wouldn’t rule him out for the following week at this stage, which reflects how minor we think it is.

“But, as I say over and over again in this forum, young players that we value really highly, we don’t take risks with.”

Port are facing their own selection headaches, with marquee forward-turned-midfielder Chad Wingard set to miss their next two matches with a calf injury.

The 23-year-old was injured at training this week ahead of the Power’s Indigenous Round clash with Geelong.

He is also expected to miss their round 11 match against Hawthorn at Adelaide Oval on June 1.

“Chad pulled up from training with some tightness,” Port high performance boss Darren Burgess told the club’s website.

“In line with our no-risk approach, we’ll keep him out of this week and probably the week after that.”

The Power will name Aaron Young as Wingard’s replacement.

Hinkley today forecast more midfield time for linchpin Robbie Gray as his AFL club seeks to end a decade-long hoodoo in Geelong.

Hinkley says Gray will be among a batch of players asked to take up a slack caused by the loss of Wingard. The brilliant Gray has played predominantly as a forward this season for the sixth-placed Power but Hinkley says the triple club champion will spend more time in the midfield against Geelong.

 

He said the third-placed Cats would present a stiff challenge at any venue, let alone their home ground, adding it would take “four tough quarters” for his side to bank a rare win in Geelong.

“I saw them play first-hand last week against the Bulldogs, it was a cracking game right to the last quarter and that is what we have got to be willing to play this week,” Hinkley said.

“They are a really good football club and football team. They have got good players in all areas of the ground.”

Hinkley knows Geelong’s home ground intimately, having played 121 games for the Cats.

“It’s certainly a more challenging venue to play,” he said.

“It’s an easier to defend venue… it would appear that you can actually defend the ground reasonably well because it is a bit narrower.

“But also it has got some length on it that allows you to get going.”

-AAP

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