Cats turn to simulation ahead of Tigers final

Geelong will use a match-simulation session on Saturday in a bid to help counter the tactics they think Richmond will adopt in next week’s qualifying final.

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Cats coach Chris Scott has refused to divulge what his club would alter from the way it tackled last year’s pre-finals bye week, but director of coaching Simon Lloyd has said they will be “trying to simulate what Richmond will do on Friday week and also work on our game”.

The Cats know they must find the right balance between players resting while also maintaining their intensity, an issue which would arise again if they were to defeat the Tigers and have another week off before the preliminary final.

Emerging midfielder-forward Sam Menegola, preparing for his second finals series, said on Wednesday there had been changes to the way the Cats would prepare.

“There has been some schedule changes. I am sure they [coaching staff] have adjusted the training loads behind the scenes,” he said.

“As a player, you probably don’t notice that as much. But, like I said, most people within our footy club and every other footy club that went through it last year will have learnt something and will change some stuff.”

Menegola, who has become a crucial cog in the Cats’ bid for a fourth flag in 11 years, said he expected a tough training session and match simulation on Saturday.

“It will be a good chance to work on some things you want to work on. Hopefully, we’ll be in a really good space come next Friday,” he said.

The two clubs met less than three weeks ago, when the undermanned Cats – without skipper Joel Selwood, Tom Hawkins and Mark Blicavs – took charge in the final term at Simonds Stadium.

That was on a day the enigmatic Steven Motlop regained his groove, while the Cats sent Harry Taylor forward and he was able to exploit Alex Rance, arguably the league’s premier defender, in one-on-one marking contests. Taylor was also able to drag Rance deep into defence, and deny him the rebound and run crucial to the Tigers’ game plan.

The Cats will expect the Tigers to find a way around this when they meet next week.

Emerging cult-hero Wylie Buzza, taken with pick No.69 in the 2015 draft, hopes to retain his role up forward and as a back-up to Zac Smith in the ruck.

He has managed six games since making his debut in round 15, but was quiet against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday, having five disposals, including a goal. He had been a major threat up forward a week earlier against Collingwood, having 14 disposals, five marks and a goal.

That the Tigers have only Toby Nankervis in the ruck – he had 31 of the Tigers’ 32 hit outs against St Kilda on Sunday – may mean the Cats do not need a back-up ruckman in the qualifying final, particularly with Blicavs and Hawkins back in the fold.

“It would be special if I got the chance. I wouldn’t say I’m any certainty to play,” Buzza said.

“You never know in footy. I’ve been in and out of the team in the last few weeks, so it’s hard to be certain. We’ve got some great players to pick from but, if I do get the opportunity, I’ll be quite rapt.”

Buzza said he worked hard to improve his endurance and “craft” in the ruck and had overcome a “lazy” eye.

“There was just an issue that my under-18 Queensland coach picked up a few years ago. I just had a lazy eye and struggled with a bit of depth perception. It’s just something that I continually work at but it’s probably passed me now,” he said.

Buzza said he had turned to eye exercises to help him mark the ball better.

The Cats remain hopeful Selwood will be fit to resume from an ankle injury but he will need to pass a fitness test.

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