Geelong will turn to the X-factor of Daniel Menzel as they look to overturn a poor recent record against red-hot Sydney in Friday night’s cut-throat AFL semi-final.
Menzel was a shock omission for last weekend’s qualifying-final loss to Richmond, with doubts cast over his lack of defensive pressure.
In the absence of their second leading scorer this year, the Cats were held to a paltry return of five goals against the rampaging Tigers.
With midfielder Cam Guthrie certain to miss with a calf strain, Geelong coach Chris Scott declared Menzel a certain starter against the Swans, who have won five of the past six matches between the two clubs.
In an eight-year career blighted by four knee reconstructions, the mercurial Menzel has only played two finals.
The 26-year-old also missed last year’s preliminary-final loss to the Swans due to groin soreness, making his dumping last weekend an even tougher pill to swallow.
“He’s been unfortunate the last four or five years and maybe even longer than that, that he hasn’t been available at this time of the year,” Scott said on Wednesday.
“Even last year he was very sore towards the end of the year.
“For this game he’ll be feeling physically very good.
“That’s the part that excites him the most, that it’s a really big game and he’s feeling good and he’s playing.”
The free agent is out of contract at the end of the season and has been linked with a possible move back to his home state of South Australia.
Scott flagged the prospect of the Cats making more than one personnel change against a Sydney outfit who have won 15 of their past 17 games.
The likes of Darcy Lang and Tom Ruggles could be considered for recalls, as could versatile talls Wylie Buzza or Rhys Stanley.
But goalsneak Nakia Cockatoo is out of contention for at least one more week due to ongoing hamstring concerns.
In his first game back after ankle surgery, combative skipper Joel Selwood was well below his best against the Tigers, although he was hardly alone there.
“He is very good when it comes to hiding discomfort,” Scott said.
“I’m sure he had some but he didn’t show it.
“His feedback is that he will be better for the run.
“He wasn’t at his best, but probably the biggest factor for us last week (was) if the coaches’ votes were 10 through to one I don’t think we could have come up with one (player) in the top 10.
“… one of the beauties of getting the double chance is you can turn that around really quickly.”