It’s Grand Final eve and there are plenty of nervous fans of the Cats and Tigers around.
But we know you’re all not Richmond or Geelong fans. As such, there are players in the Grand Final you may or may not be too familiar with.
That’s what I’m here for.
As a Cats man, it is my duty to get you better acquainted with those on the list you may not be overly familiar with, as well as adding a bit about those you know all-too-well. This team is full of great players and great stories. I hope this helps get you acquainted with this year’s Grand Finalists.
Jack Henry: Grew up a huge fan of the Cats and watched the 07, 09 and 11 grannys from his house just a stone’s throw away from GMHBA stadium. Jack Henry has been an essential piece of the Cats’ backline because of his courage and willingness to put his body on the line. Voted the most courageous player at the Cats by his peers, Henry is deceptively tough however will be tested this week as his decision-making in high-pressure situations has lacked throughout the year, which cost the Cats a goal to Cameron last week.
Harry Taylor: Many called for his head after he played through 2018 with an injured foot but has bounced back to help guide the Cats to one of the best defences in the league and is eyeing off a fairy tale ending to his incredible two flag and two All Australian career. Not too shabby for a bloke that couldn’t run up and down the park just a couple of years ago. The old bugger will be reliant on the Cats’ stingy team defence to be effective in this game, with no clear direct opponent, Harry will have to rely on his intercept marking to avoid going astray.
Jake Kolodjashnij: An unsung hero of the Cats’ backline, Kolo will hold the crown for highest scrabble name to win a flag if the Cats are able to get up on the weekend. There is more to Kolo than his name; his intercept marling and spoiling is up there with the game’s best. I expect him to match up on Jack Riewoldt this weekend after Henderson struggled to contain him earlier in the season. If Kolo fails to stop Riewoldt, trouble will almost definitely ensue for the Cats.
Lachie Henderson: After being thrown to the curb by the Cats, Lachie has stepped up immensely this year, having slotted into the side in the mix of the first footy frenzy. Hendo took his chance and ran with it, playing an exceptional brand of footy and has been one of, if not the best Cat in this finals series. Hendo’s only down game of the season came against the Tigers in their round 17 clash so he will be hoping to avoid a repeat of the master-class Jack Riewoldt put on. That is if he even gets given the match up.
Mark Blicavs: This man has won two best and fairest awards at the Cats in two different positions and still finds himself underrated by the general AFL community. I don’t know where he will be playing this week against the Tigers, but Mark will be looking to capture his first premiership medal and could be a sneaky for the Norm Smith Medal if he gets going. The issue with Blicavs is that there is no doubt he will be a major influence in this game, the questions come into play when Chris Scott decides where his star full back/wingman/ruckman will spend majority of his playing time.
As a Cats fan, please put him directly on Lynch!
Tom Stewart: Many forgot about Tom Stewart this year after he broke his collarbone against Melbourne earlier on in the season. He has only recently returned to his All-Australian form and will be a force of the Geelong half back line. His intercept marking is up there with the man on his opposite, Dylan Grimes as league best. Tom Stewart and Grimes will be some of the biggest pieces in deciding this game. The Stew will likely have deal with one of the Tigers smalls and that could spell trouble. With Jed Bews as the Cats’ only true small defender, Stewart is likely going to have to match up against a far smaller and more agile player.
Zach Tuohy: The second Carlton castaway on the Cats behind Henderson, Tuohy came to Geelong to win. Since moving across from Carlton he has played a more aggressive role and has become a threat around goal. Having made the move across not just from Carlton, but from his home of Portlaoise in Ireland, Tuohy will be looking to return to Ireland with a shiny Premiership Medallion once his career is over. He’s flourished in the Cats’ nine-defender style where half back flankers move up to the wing and he has been a key factor in why the system in place at Geelong works so well. Can the backman turned wingman outplay the class and experience of the Tigers he’ll be matched up against?
Mark O’Connor: I know, this Cats defence does have a lot of underrated pieces and yes, I’m extremely biased, apparently. The Cats love Mark O’Connor and he has proven himself time and time again to be a great leader and player in the Cats’ stubborn backline. Being thrust into an impressive leadership group after only 32 games, the Cats saw something in him that he is proving time and time again this season. Before Channel 7 tell you 100 times this weekend, he is Irish, from a town called Dingle. Merrick hasn’t had many bad games in 2020, but when he does, they’re stinkers. He’s had a few games this year under ten disposals that he would be hoping to avoid a repeat of on Saturday night.
Jed Bews: Son of the great Andrew Bews, Jed will be looking to capture what his father never could; a premiership medal. Jed has had an amazing 2020 season and being a part of the Cats’ defence, means you sneak up on the wing and can kick a goal – Jed has snagged three rippers this year and is always a chance to add to that tally. Bews is going to have to play nearly full game time this weekend, if he’s not out there or is being badly beaten by the Tigers smalls, the Cats will be hitting the big red panic button.
Cam Guthrie: To say Guthrie is underrated is no longer fair. The newest All-Australian at the Cattery capped off a stellar 2020 season with his first AA blazer and will be primed to match up with Dusty in the centre square on the weekend. He is the Cats’ best defensive mid and along with Joel Selwood and can form a great tag team when they work cohesively. Lachie Neale was victim to the Malachi crunch in the first quarter last week, and Cats fans are hoping Cam and Joel can have the same effect on Dusty.
HB Meyers, I put that Malachi Crunch thing in there just for you, you old bastard. Keep it in, leave it, I don’t care, bet it made you chuckle though!
Sam Menegola: Sam was delisted by the Hawks and Fremantle earlier in his career before being picked up by the Cats in the draft with pick 66 in 2015. Mr. “Menengola” as he’s commonly known around the Channel 7 studios is our Mongrel Punt Wingman of the Year, however his spot on the All-Australian team was taken by midfielders! Sammy has been outstanding in the first three games of this finals series – a bit of a middle finger to the AA selectors, but as a Cats fan, I love it.
Mitch Duncan: Have I ever told you the definition of underrated? Averaging 20 disposals across the season and 24 across finals and currently leading the Gary Ayres Medal ahead of Dustin Martin. Mitch Duncan is the definition of underrated. In a team full of stars like Dangerfield, Selwood, Ablett and Hawkins, Duncan is often left out and he is on a warpath to let everyone in the AFL know, he means business.
Sam Simpson: Sammy Simmo was a shock selection against the Pies, replacing Tom Atkins. Simpson will need to demonstrate why the Cats selected class and skill over a tackling bull in Atkins against the Tigers. Maybe the Cats just selected him because of how he wears his socks. I would.
Socks aside, looking back at Simpson’s season I would’ve thought he had a far better season. Averaging 14 disposals from his eight games played, he has only cracked 16 once since his first game played this season when he had a ripping 27 disposals against the Lions. That was in Round Six, but there were definite signs there early in the Prelim. He’ll need to produce something akin to that this week.
Brandan Parfitt: Another name that Channel 7 loves to butcher, Parfitt has benefited from this chaotic season and has proven himself to be an essential piece in this Cats’ midfield, so much so that his name is currently in the mix to be sent to the Giants in exchange for Jeremy Cameron. Parf will be playing for his career at the Cats and proving why he is so valuable to their midfield. He is a tackling machine and was placed fourth in the comp this year in total tackles and tackles per game. His tackling and pressure are why the Cats were able to drop Atkins and bring in Simpson. I’m not sure Simpson plays if Parfitt isn’t playing so well.
Rhys Stanley: The ruckman that was dropped an hour before a final because there was a spec of rain on the 256km BOM loop, Rhys Stanley has shown Chris Scott that he is an essential piece to this Cats team and has beaten some of the game’s best this year. Rhys left the Saints in 2015 looking for a flag and this is the closest he’s been to the Promised Land. He’ll be facing Nankervis coming off a stellar match-winning performance against the Power. Rhys will need to cull the impact of Nankervis to give the Cats any chance of winning. After seeing how effective Nank can be in the backline against the Power, Stanley will need to drift forward and at least bring the ball to ground to keep it out of his hands.
Luke Dalhaus: Luke is one of those players that you love him for who he is, but you’re not too sure what he brings to the table, then all of a sudden, he’ll show all his cards and then you go back to wondering. Make sense? I agree, it doesn’t.
I’m trying to say politely that Dalhaus is having career lows this season across the board and hasn’t hit the scoreboard as much as he would’ve liked. He is in the team for his pressure, I’m hoping he brings it on Saturday. In a Grand Final, pressure wins games and after being one of the few Cats to have won a flag before, Dahl knows what it takes and I’m hoping he brings it on the weekend.
Gary Rohan: How good is this guy? Seriously, I don’t know. With Esava Rategolea out of the side, Chucky will be the Cats’ second marking forward if Paddy plays in the midfield and that’s scary for a lot of Cats fans, I know he can do it, he has some great hands and incredible pressure, the only issue is that he is renowned for going missing in finals.
He has been a notorious dead weight in finals and after a great game against the Lions, a manic game ensuing against the Tigers could be the style that suits Rohan. Being out of contract at the end of the year, a big Grand Final performance will certainly boost his value to the Cats.
Tom Hawkins: Tommy J… to say that Tom’s impact on the Grand Final is going to be huge in determining the outcome is an understatement, Tom Hawkins will be one if, if not the most important player on the ground. Having been carved up earlier in the season by the Tigers and missing last year’s prelim against the same mob, here’s hoping the big Tomahawk can come out firing. He’s had a ripping finals series, but is kicking an inaccurate 6.9 so far and could be the Cats’ biggest downfall if he cannot get on top of the Tiger defenders early.
Gary Ablett: I don’t need to tell you much about this bloke; you already know it. Two flags, two Brownlows, eight All-Australians… I could go on and on about how fitting it would be for Gaz to end his career with a flag. I won’t, but don’t tempt me.
As Nick Dal Santo and Jason Dunstall argued on Fox Footy during the week, Gaz is one of, if not the greatest ever to grace a football field and finishing with a flag is not only what he deserves, but what he’s earned. The Tigers’ chaotic game style and insane pace that they play with may just prove too much for the old goat, but it ony takes a few moments of brilliance from Ablett to set the Cats alight. My fingers are crossed for more then a few.
Patrick Dangerfield: Paddy Dangerfield, the man that has done everything there is to do in his career, except win a flag. He left the Crows to join the Cats for one reason – to win. Sure, there’s the narrative about wanting to go home, but when you’re as good as Paddy, you don’t change teams for a sinple change of scenery. You move to win and Paddy has now lead his team to the cusp of ultimate glory.
The discussion on where he will play shouldn’t be one – he’s Dangerfield – where he plays, greatness ensues. Whilst Danger has accomplished almost everything you can in the game, his legacy will have quite the blemish on it if he ends up without a flag and this is his best if not last shot.
Gryan Miers: I love Gryan Miers. He is weird, quirky and all around just an odd bloke. The kid bought a canvas and a PS4 into the hub with him. He is a strange fella and I love him. Maybe you should too. Let me take you back to Gryan’s last Grand Final before the draft It was the TAC Cup at Etihad Stadium. His result – a best on ground performance with seven goals. Need I say more?
The G his parents added onto Ryan is for Glory, and Gryan will be bringing glory to the Cats on Saturday.
Joel Selwood: Captain, oh captain. There hasn’t been a better captain in recent memory; Joel is tough, brave, fearless, willing and so much more. Love him or hate him, there aren’t many that wouldn’t follow him into battle. He is a warrior, a champion and will go down as the greatest captain in Geelong Cats history.
He has three flags already under Tom Harley and Cameron Ling – now it’s his time to add his name to the list of AFL greats as a premiership captain.