LING BACKS BLAKE
By Mark Heenan of AAP GEELONG FOOTBALL CLUB Vice Captain Cameron Ling is backing emerging young ruckman Mark Blake to be a secret weapon during Saturday night's AFL NAB Cup Grand Final against the Adelaide Crows at AAMI Stadium.
The 20-year-old has shouldered most of the Cats ruck workload during the clubs pre-season campaign, while captain Steven King struggles to be fit after undergoing an achilles operation during the off-season.
King has failed to play in this years NAB Cup and remains in serious doubt for this weekends clash.
Defender Matthew Scarlett is expected to take the captains reigns, if King misses.
The 2004 Geelong best and fairest winner says Blake is well equipped to handle the hostile AAMI Stadium crowd and can produce in a big match occasion.
Well I think Blakey has had a fair bit of pressure on him, in each of these NAB Cup games, Ling said.
I think he has handled it pretty well.
He has got a long way to go Blakey (and) lots of things to learn, he is just got to get a bit more mature.
Last Saturday night, the former Geelong Falcon had the unenviable task of playing on Fremantle giant Aaron Sandilands during the Cats 20-point win against the Dockers at Telstra Dome.
Sandilands, the AFLs heaviest player and equal tallest player, is 12 centimetres taller and 26 kilos heavier than Blake, but Ling admits Steven Kings ruck apprentice did all that was asked of him.
On the weekend against (Aaron) Sandilands, it was a huge ask and I thought he did a reasonable job, he said.
There was no way Sandilands got on top and really dominated and I think it has been a really good learning experience for Blake.
Hopefully during the year Kingy will be fine and maybe there wont be too many opportunities for him, any chance he gets it would be good if Blakey could step up.
Blake, who played 3 AFL games 2005, was selected under the father-son rule in the 2003 AFL national draft.
Blake is the son of former Geelong player Rod, who played 176 VFL games between 1971 and 1983.
Meanwhile, Ling admits he was surprised with the Dockers fadeout on Saturday night as the Cats successfully contained Matthew Pavlich and livewire forwards Paul Medhurst and Jeff Farmer in the final term.
Fremantle led by 10 points at the final break, before Geelong slammed home two nine-point goals and three regular goals in the fourth quarter.
I was a bit unsure how we would go against Fremantle to be honest - I thought they would have a bit too much firepower for us, Ling said.