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As it happened: Rampaging Geelong Cats charge into preliminary final after smashing Collingwood Magpies

Nathan Buckley’s press conference continued…

Q: What’s your position – there’s a lot of discussion on the forward issue. Is that the greatest position on that end? Most would say it isn’t. If so how do you plan to address that?
A: We would have loved to have played Will Kelly all season but that was an unfortunate injury for him. We think he’s a likely type. Mark Keane played one game. We would like him to play more. We think he will push forward. Whether it’s forward or back we think he has attributes to both. Key forward potential. I think the way the game is played, I mean, it’s more multi-dimensional forwards. There’s not that many Tom Hawkins and Charlie Dixons around and Mason Cox has played a role for us and been a bit of a target for us in front of the ball. So, I suppose if you have one of those guys you are doing better than most. But I think the way the game is played and the way it’s being contested and defended, you know, the bigger, more cumbersome forwards are not your answer. So, you need to have aerial strength. I think the talk of absolute key forward, I mean, I don’t know how people rated, you know, the legitimate key forwards of the competition. How they thought their
seasons went. But the All-Australian team would suggest that there was only a couple of blokes that really stood up in that.

Q: And possibly De Goey…
A: Yeah, I mean – we don’t live in a vacuum. We’re aware of the conversations that take place. And in particular this time of year and beyond the scuttlebutt. I was disappointed to learn during the week we missed on Josh Kennedy. The first I heard of it but disappointing we missed out on it. ‘Jordy’ loves the club. He wants to be here. Elements of people on his side would like to see him remunerated as well as he possibly could. You know, we want him to be rewarded appropriately as well, as we do the other 44 blokes on our list for what they bring to the table. So, I think that’s what it comes down to because there’s no lack of belief in what the place – what the place has done for him, what it brings for him and the opportunity it provides and the love and care and connection he has to not only with the club but in particular his teammates. But yes, there still needs to be a monetary outcome that is satisfactory for both parties.

Q: Do you think he will want to speak to other clubs as part of that process to glean what’s out there?
A: Most players do, yeah and if they don’t their managers will. That’s – we’re in – we’re in an open market. If you’re uncontracted or free agent that’s what it’s designed for.

Q: Do you expect to be active in the off-season?
A: Look, I think we think we have scope. I would suggest once we find out what list sizes will be we will have a little bit more, sort of concrete ground to work from. But there’s going to be – there’s going to be a large percentage of players that won’t be on AFL lists next year. There will be an adjustment in that regard. You know, we – we feel like we’ve got a really good handle on what we’ve got and what we need and we will be as aggressive as we can be. We have now won finals in each of the last three years and not been able to get to exactly where we want to get to but we have to continue to get better. There’s no stopping. There’s no slowing down in that regard. You know, I know the key forward is an area. We still need to, you know, replenish our midfield and find different – you know a way for the guys to come through there. That might be a target area. Outside run, high forwards and wingers might be an area we need to look at. We think our backs are pretty set. We have key areas we need to look at and we will continue to do so. I think understanding yourself is the most important step that you need to take before you work out what you need to come in and we think we have a good handle on that.

Q: Do you go to the draft?
A: Look, we’ve done – I have seen Quaynor and Daicos come through. This year’s been a real positive. You know we will make those assessments and it’s hard to make those assessments given not every junior competition has been played. Our list management have been strong, our recruiting arm has been strong. They will look different going into next year and beyond. We will go to draft if we need to. I suppose it depends where you feel you can settle and what access you can get to, to the talent that you feel that you are assessing. We need to be able to service our needs and if we can do that at a certain level of draft we will go to draft.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley spoke to media after his side’s crushing loss to Geelong…

Q: Magnificent last week and got beaten at the coal face tonight. Were there early any warning signs you saw that coming?
A: It happened pretty quick. A lot we couldn’t go and Geelong were a lot sharper than us inside. They controlled the ball when they had it. They got it back off us when we had it for the few times that we did. So, yeah, it was times that we did. So, yeah, it was as comprehensive a loss that you are going to see, I would have thought.

Q: Spent all your chips last week?
A: The evidence would suggest so. We didn’t think so. We didn’t think we had until it was obvious we had. No, it wasn’t in our language. We were – you know, we were optimistic. You know, we have kept finding a way this year for the most part. We have never really felt like we’ve had momentum and then when we’ve had it, you know, I think most sides will feel like this. When you’ve had it it’s hard to keep. It’s just been that year for everyone. That was – you are not going to see a game that one-sided very often.

Q: What do you say to players when they lost hope at half-time, three-quarter time or even earlier on?
A: It’s imploring on our character and our pride, I suppose. When I see – I see young men looking back at me when I’m talking to them at any time and what I see is young blokes that are just so impressive with the way that they carry themselves – that genuinely will give everything that they have got. So, the only way that I can comprehend a result like tonight is that we had nothing more to give. Because – I don’t know what the fans at home see or feel when they see this group go about its business, but I know personally we – I’m just so impressed with our group and how they carry themselves and how they handle you know setbacks and challenges and how resilient they have become. We didn’t display that tonight at all. It’s pretty hard to comprehend. But I know that we’re made of sterner stuff. You know, we will – we will find the positives and we will go forward from this. It’s very hard to feel that or see that at the moment.

Q: Last week was an amazing week for the club. Did you take anything away tonight?
A: It’s not what we wanted tonight. We left last week – well, we felt we left last week last week. But I mean – there’s obviously – when you look at something like that it’s hard not to look at it and say, ‘well, you fired your last shot last week and maybe we’re a bit happy with ourselves’. I know our group, we were really focused. There was definitely nothing in our language or in our attitude that displayed that that was a hangover but it was clear in our actions that we just – we weren’t able to bring the same energy that we – that we’ve come to, you know, take for granted, I suppose … one of the words I suppose to describe how we’re feel at the moment is shocked. You feel like that when you get ambushed. There’s no doubt we were ambushed. We knew what was coming. We knew we needed to meet it. We weren’t able to meet it, the fact we weren’t able to meet it at all is the disappointing part.

Q: What do you say of loss of confidence. I’m not talking about tonight. I’m talking about the synergy – was that lack of confidence?
A: I don’t think we ever gave ground or lost belief that we were going to be able to work our way through it. In evidence we should have come in to tonight pretty confident about what we were able to produce last week. You know, we’ve probably played three really poor games this year and each of them have been – well, I don’t know what the final margin ended up. Each have been 10-goal losses, to West Coast in round eight, to Melbourne out here and then to Geelong. So, we’ve played three really poor games. I think our largest losing margin outside of that was 18 points to Port
Adelaide a couple of weeks ago. We’ve been as consistent and competitive as any. But we’ve had three bad games out of – you know – 19. Which is a good ratio or bad ratio depending the way you look at it.

Geelong coach Chris Scott spoke to the media after his team’s emphatic victory over Collingwood…

Q: After an incredible home-and-away season there was a so-called ‘monkey on your back’ in terms of finals. I know you thought the term was lazy in terms of the analysis. Was that one of the most incredible performances as a coach and proud performance.
A: I’m proud about the players and coaches. They’re the ones that get the most air time in our conversations and our head space in preparation for every game. We had a lot of confidence that we could build on the way we played this year. And thought we played OK last week without getting near our best and today we were pretty close to our best. I find it hard to rate these things. I think there’s a resolve within our group to find a way to try to play better and if we do that we will be hard to beat.

Q: Special focus this week to start so strongly?
A: It really helps. That’s where – like, even coaching is easy because what you want to happen is easy to identify. How you go about it really – there’s some planning that’s involved and the preparation but really the responsibility falls to the players in the moment. I think as is always the case they should get the credit for setting up the game the way they did.

Q: The talk during the week, talk of straight sets and all the finals speculation. Did the team take that personally at all?
A: It’s hard for me to answer. I doubt it. That certainly wasn’t the sense I got. I think – as I said, I think you would be surprised how little some people, including me, actually hear about that stuff. You are obviously aware of criticism when it comes. But that’s the business we’re in. I said during the week if we feel a bit of pressure we should consider it a privilege. It’s hard to get to this stage of the year. And you know there are easier places to be at this time of year. But you know – there’s risk. You put yourself on the line and if you don’t come through you get criticised. That’s fair enough. We would rather take that emotional risk and put ourselves on the line. Risk that criticism to test ourselves and, so, no I think it’s a bad mindset to be in if you get extra motivation because of what people who don’t live in your world are saying. I think our motivation was much more pure than that.

Q: You would have had great confidence in the team. Were you even surprised at how well they played tonight?
A: There’s always the element of unknown at this time of year. I guess I was surprised given the pattern our games with Collingwood have followed in recent times, in recent years, they have
been very low-scoring games and a real grind. So even when we got the first couple of goals early we thought – at least I was thinking that was valuable but the rest of the game was going to be an arm wrestle. It didn’t turn out that way. It’s hard to assess why. Hopefully a fair bit of it was that our guys were just really good in the contest and executed really well. As much as anything last week we just didn’t execute on the opportunities that we worked hard to get. That was much, much better tonight.

Q: Do you think that was your best performance of the year?
A: Probably, given the stakes, but again I find it really hard to compare. It’s hard to assess you know some of the obstacles and impediments that the opposition were going through. We had good games here. We like the ground. We think it sort of suits our eye a bit. But we played pretty good game here against the Saints. Yeah, given the stakes, you know, I’m happy. But focused on next week too.

Q: Chris, what is it about the Gabba you think suits your style?
A: I’m trying to think what I’m prepared to say. I think our execution here has been good in front of goal. That is an intangible that one. Sometimes the guys that take the shots for us, you know, Rohan and Hawkins, in particular, even Dangerfield here they just seem to set up for some reason. There are some things I have a theory I am not prepared to elaborate on publicly. We played three times. Played well every single time. This is the fourth.

Q: Will it get diluted with the crowd against Brisbane?
A: The crowd is in their favour. The two teams – three teams if you include West Coast – that finished in the top five played a lot of games at home in front of a home crowd. That’s the quirk of the way this year unfolded. Brisbane will be used to it. It’s very rare you get to play an away prelim final having played four games at the venue in preparation and we’re only an hour bus ride up the road which we’re used to. I think it will be logical that they would go in favourites given they played so well against Richmond last week and to have a bit of a home crowd advantage. But I think there will be a few Catters here as well.

Q: What have you learnt from the previous preliminary finals?
A: That every year is a new year.

Q: So nothing…
A: Well, what was the number? I’m not sure of the numbers to be honest? What happened five years ago, like, I mean I could be wrong. I’m open to the possibility that I’m wrong. I just don’t think that that has a huge bearing on Sam Simpson and Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus and Rhys Stanley and you know the whole host of players that weren’t playing five years ago. I have to be careful with my word again. I don’t think it’s relevant.

Q: How do you have a preference for – how do you go about working out the balance forward?
A: Our process is we consider our best players to be experts and we consult heavily in the week. If they really want something they tend to get it. Unless it’s an important structural
issue the team prioritises. Corey Enright works close with the forwards. Tom Hawkins gets a say in it. After we set up a planning place in process it’s reading the game and trying to work out where he’s best suited. It’s a collaboration.

Q: He started – normally he’s at the goal square but tonight he wasn’t. Is that a different decision to get him into the game?
A: Not to get him into the game. There was a specific reason for it. Yeah.

Q: Gary Ablett has one or two games left. Do you celebrate before or no, it’s prelim. Is there a way to use what he’s achieved or not?
A: Maybe. Maybe. I think we have a few in that boat as well. Including – including our off-field people. It’s hard to get these opportunities and it comes with – you know, it does come with
some pain. There’s a cost. Again you have to take that risk to the line. Whether it’s potentially the last game of your career or you are a younger player or coach who thinks you have plenty of time, my great coach said what his great coach said to him, “It’s always later than you think.” For us to prioritise one person who will finish at the end of the year over the others, that might not have quite as long as they think they have, I think would be a mistake.

Q: Do you have any injuries?
A: None at all. It was good.

Tom Hawkins spoke to Channel Seven after kicking four goals against Collingwood…

Q: That must feel great.
A: It does. Pleasing coming off a pretty disappointing performance the week before over in Adelaide. We knew we didn’t play the footy we wanted. We didn’t convert our opportunities. I thought it was a good turnaround tonight against a side that’s – that’s had an unbelievable run the last few weeks and few months.

Q: You have been around a while now. You have seen the game evolve and change. I think defences have got so much better in the last 10 years. You have seen that unfold. Is it more difficult now to play key forward than ever?
A: Oh, look, I’m not sure to be honest. I suppose with more confidence in the way that I – I can perform each week, more confidence in my body and being a senior player having played for a long time now, I probably – I probably find it a little bit easier to be honest. The shorter quarters are certainly helping me this year, a bit more fatigue in the game. It sort of helps me in the game. It sort of helps me in the way I’m playing. There’s been certain challenges right the way through my career, the way I have had to change my body shape and evolve with the game. There’s certainly been periods of time that have been harder but I feel like I’m really confident in my body and the way I play and what I bring to the team.

Q: Congratulations on a ripping year. Coleman Medal winner and a big four-goal final. I think it might have been career goal 600 where you normally fade left to right. You got one going right to left. Was that an intentional kick or how did you get it sliding the other way?
A: It wasn’t really – I – obviously it was well documented I had a poor week in front of goals last week. I thought I was in the game and provided and got some opportunities but I just didn’t convert. So that was disappointing. For me tonight late I said to Gary Rohan after the game, we both practiced this week our goal kicking because it wasn’t where it needed to be last week and when the game was, sort of, finished late in the fourth quarter, and I got the opportunity to go back I thought it was really important for my confidence moving forward to go back and concentrate on the fundamentals of what makes me kick well. This one happened to go straight. I don’t often know what it is that makes the ball go left to right, but it’s what I have become accustomed to with my kicking.

Q: You join Gary Ablett Senior and Doug Wade as the only Cats to kick 600 goals. They’re amazing names.
A: It’s amazing. Two people that I have gone up – certainly I didn’t get to watch Doug Wade but I know a lot about – I know a lot about the Geelong history and to be able to be right up there with those two people is pretty special. So the job is not done. We have more important things to worry about but they’re just nice little achievements on the way.

Q: What about one of your best mates, obviously you played your whole careers together, Joel Selwood. We take for granted how tough he is. Again this week having surgery eight days ago and coming out and doing what he did tonight you must shake your head at this guy’s leadership and
courage he has every week for the club.
A: You are right. There was no doubt he was going to play. Gives himself every opportunity each week with the body as a 32-year-old has been bashed around for a 14-year career. Still got a lot of football left in him. Obviously I get to – and I have seen it first hand for a long time. But it was a marvellous effort. He leads in the front. He’s a real warrior and champion our football club.

Patrick Dangerfield was the best player on the ground tonight and he spoke to Channel Seven after qualifying for his fifth career preliminary final…

Q: You spent a lot of time forward tonight. You kicked the four goals. What was the percentage breakdown tonight? It felt like you were inside forward 50 for most of the match tonight.
A: It was, I suppose, a bit of a deep role with ‘Ro’ [Gary Rohan] working against the good intercept markers that Collingwood have down there. We felt going into the week that was probably going to be the best position, I suppose. To try to stretch them down there. And our mids were sensational around the ball. Rhys Stanley terrific in the ruck. We won clearance and I think importantly we maintained possession. We were still able to methodically move the ball up the ground and create damaging sets of play. When we controlled the play last week we just weren’t able to convert that to scores. Whereas tonight it was pleasing that we found a few avenues to goal.

Q: Paddy you were splitting packs open everywhere tonight. You were playing a bit like Dermott Brereton. What was that all about?
A: Just the role, I think. If you can jump at one make sure [Darcy] Moore is not going to mark it. We know what incredible season he’s had and how pivotal he is to Collingwood. That was going to be important for us. That’s no secret. Every team has known it. It’s hard to try to stop you know a player of that quality. We said to all our forwards, barring Luke Dahlhaus, if you have room to run and jump, then run and jump.

Q: You had four goals, which is equal to your career best in a final. You had the opportunity late in the game to get a little handball receive from [Tom] Hawkins and make it five. He just walked straight past you.
A: Bit selfish from the big fella. We talk about a team-first ethos. He’s just behind the camera now. Actually yeah we have a bit of a goal assist off. Could have had him in the lead. But it’s good to see the big fella up and rolling.

Q: The two banana goals from the identical spot in the pocket. You couldn’t have struck them any better. Tell us about the second because I thought it was a behind. The score review decided it was a goal. Was it through?
A: I’m live at the ground, I think I’m a better judge at goal than you are sitting in the living room chair. I thought it went through. I’m happy to take that one.

Q: Casting your mind forward. I know you want to sit back and relax and enjoy this for a moment. Prelims don’t get much bigger the Brisbane Lions on their home deck next Saturday night. It will be massive. The crowd will be behind them. You will be looking forward to that. They’re a tough team.
A: No doubt. It’s a wonderful challenge. We will set ourselves from you know the beginning of the season to put ourselves in this position and embrace the challenges ahead. You know, I commend all teams with what everyone is – the travel schedule this year. And performing is another thing entirely. We’ve been pleased with what we’ve been able to do. The challenges as you said don’t get any bigger than Brissy on the home ground. We feel like we play good footy up here. We can’t wait. As you said these opportunities in footy and in life don’t come up very often. We will enjoy tonight. And then we will look forward and really embrace the week and you know take it head-on.

The Geelong boys sing the song loud and proud!

Star Geelong utility Mark Blicavs spoke to Channel Seven after the game…

Q: You guys were outstanding.
A: Felt stable behind the ball. Thought we moved better. Port Adelaide were awesome last week. We wanted to come out and respond. We enjoy playing at the Gabba. Started well. Great first half to set up the win.

Q: You start on the wing, work in defence, all of a sudden [Rhys] Stanley needs a break so you jump into the ruck.
A: It was a bit like that. Thought Rhys was great in the ruck. Chopped him out a bit when he went to the bench. ‘Scotty’ [coach Chris Scott] said, ‘play more of a free-flowing game, try to get back to help the defenders.

Q: Gary [Ablett] said ‘Scotty’ throughout the week was positive. What messages was he giving you?
A: We were confident, we know our way, can stand up against a lot of teams. We wanted to make sure we try to play that way. Make sure we had a positive week, trained really well and came out and give it a red-hot crack and not die wondering. The first quarter set it up for us.

Geelong captain Joel Selwood spoke to Channel Seven after the game as well…

Q: You dominated every facet of the game. It was a strong response by your guys. What did you make of that performance?
A: Super proud of the guys. Brave effort. Disappointed coming off last week. We thought we played OK. When you lose finals like that you seem to get bashed quite a bit. We came out, performed really well early. Gave our group a lot of confidence and yeah I mean we’ve just got to keep building here.

Q: It was a nice little goal to cap off an all-round team performance for you. Surgery just eight days ago, how did the finger hold up for you tonight?
A: It’s good. I won’t say it’s been a short week at all. It’s been a hell of a long week. Yeah, it was – you know just couldn’t keep it in last week in the second half. We had to do something about it. Make it a little more stable. It’s come good.

Q: Paddy Dangerfield – how good was he tonight? Different role for him this year. It’s no longer about him getting 30 plus [touches] every week. Yes, he still had 19 and kicked four [goals] tonight. His ability to crash packs and just really step up in games like this, isn’t it?
A: Yeah, and to be honest don’t even want to speak about him because the rest of the group were fantastic tonight. He’s a star. He gets everything he deserves but as a group we’re building, we’ve been building all year. We’re looking forward to what happens next.

Geelong legend Gary Ablett spoke to Channel Seven after the game…

Q: Another great win for the Geelong Football Club. Great way to bounce back.
A: Absolutely. Super proud of the boys. It was disappointing last week. You know we had a really good week on the track. ‘Scotty’ [coach Chris Scott] was pumping us up all week. Talking about how good a year we’ve had. If we can play our game style for four quarters, you know then we believed we would win. We did that tonight.

Q: You dominated stoppages in the first half. Defensively the team was sound.
A: Absolutely. The biggest change from the game earlier in the season we probably went down the line too much. We wanted to switch the ball, control the ball and obviously go forward at the right times. We did that really well.

Q: The skipper [Joel Selwood] – 13 final series out of his 14 years. Was there any doubt he wasn’t going to play?
A: No, no, I asked him after the game how his finger was? I knew that he was going to have to have surgery. We always knew that he was going to play. He’s a hard nut. You know I mean he’s been a skipper for so long. There’s a reason why. He was great tonight and we will get ready for next week.

It’s a pretty devastated Collingwood room, as you’d expect

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