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Crows plan to wear Dangerfield like a glove

Football

Geelong are not banking on lightning striking twice for Patrick Dangerfield when he takes on his former side in Friday night’s cut-throat final.

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While he is certain to spend time up forward against the Crows, Dangerfield will have more of his usual midfield role.

The Brownlow Medallist is the No.1 talking point ahead of the clash, given Geelong’s decisive ploy last Friday in the upset semi-final win over Sydney.

The Cats started Dangerfield as their deep forward, rattling the Swans’ defence.

He kicked four first-half goals and was best afield, spending most of the match in attack rather than his usual role as a crucial member of Geelong’s midfield rotation.

But a big reason why the move worked was because Sydney played a one-on-one defence, meaning the Cats could isolate Dangerfield and Swans opponent Dane Rampe.

Dangerfield kicked Geelong’s first two goals and, with his fellow midfielders playing superbly, they could maintain the surprise match-up.

Cats coach Chris Scott notes that the Crows play a team defence – a strategy that will make it much harder for Geelong to isolate Dangerfield inside 50.

So regardless of where Dangerfield starts at Adelaide Oval, he will switch between the midfield and attack.

“Looking at the two teams, it’s almost a matter of saying ‘where are they similar?’,” Scott said today of Adelaide and Sydney.

“They’re probably similar around the contest in some respects, but the rest is completely different.”

Scott added their main issue was not where Dangerfield started, but making sure they adjusted quickly to circumstances as the game unfolded.

“A little bit depends on the opposition and the way they set up,” he said.

“We rarely do things just to make it destabilising for the opposition – but if that’s a flow-on effect, then it helps in your decision making.”

Two days out from the game, Dangerfield knows where he will start against the Crows.

“I know where he’d like to start, but it’s not black and white for him,” Scott said.

“He has a preference, but I think if we played him in the other spot, I think he’ll be okay.”

The Crows believe the player they call ‘The Glove’ could be a perfect fit for Geelong’s megastar: unsung defender Luke Brown is among the candidates to stand Dangerfield should the key Cat line-up in attack.

“We call him ‘The Glove’ because he just doesn’t give you any space,” Adelaide defender Rory Laird said of Brown yesterday.

“He takes the most dangerous small forward for the opposition side and it just seems to happen every week that they don’t get the ball and don’t kick any goals.”

Ex-Crow Dangerfield’s former housemate in Adelaide, Jake Kelly, and taller backman Kyle Hartigan were other options to quell the Brownlow medallist, who kicked four opening-half goals in Geelong’s semi-final win against Sydney.

But Laird said the Crows would also plan for Dangerfield to play in his customary midfield role.

“Wherever he plays, we will be ready for it. I think we can cover him in both spots of the ground,” Laird said.

Scott maintained he had not paid much attention to speculation this week surrounding the Cats’ tactics.

“I’m not aware of the advice – I’m pretty protected from the maniacs,” he said.

Geelong will add speedy forward Nakia Cockatoo to their squad for Friday’s game.

He has had hamstring injuries this season and has not played since round 19, meaning a big roll of the dice if the Cats play him.

“He’ll be in the squad … he’ll be on the plane,” Scott said.

Tom Lonergan will return from the illness that kept him out of the semi-final, while Tom Stewart (hamstring tightness) is also likely to play.

“It would be a big surprise if he was unavailable,” Scott said.

The Crows expect to be forced to make two changes to their victorious qualifying final side, with Brodie Smith (knee) out for the season and forward Mitch McGovern straining a hamstring at training on Saturday.

Vice-captain Rory Sloane (appendicitis) will return with versatile Andy Otten among the potential replacements for McGovern, who trained away from the main Crows squad on Tuesday.

“He (McGovern) is tracking along quite nicely but pretty doubtful, so we have put him in the hands of our medical staff and see how it goes,” Laird said.

“Obviously it’s very disappointing for him personally. But he understands that there’s a bigger picture, and that is the week after.

“He will do everything to try and get right this week and if he can’t, then he will look towards next week and the big dance.”

-AAP

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