Wanga: beware young Cats

Thursday, May 16
Geelong Advertiser _ AAP

GAVIN WANGANEEN knows better than most that young, unheralded players can sometimes outshine more highly rated opponents.

The Port Adelaide veteran was just a teenager when he entered the 1993 season to collect the Brownlow Medal and a widely unexpected premiership with Essendon's `Baby Bombers'.

So his warning yesterday that Port had to be careful not to let Geelong's band of youngsters get under its guard at Football Park on Saturday was worthy of respect.

``You've got to give everyone the respect they deserve, especially young guys you don't know too much about,'' Wanganeen said.

``There's still plenty of homework you need to do on those players, and you don't want to be caught out on the weekend not giving a young guy respect, because he'll go out there and do quite well on you.''

Geelong's solid 3-4 season start has surprised many, in what the club acknowledges is a rebuilding year, with inexperienced players such as James Bartel, Gary Ablett Jr, Josh Hunt, Joel Corey and Cameron Ling leading the way.

``Obviously (Geelong coach Mark) Thompson has got the young guys playing well; we need to be on our game this week, we can't afford to let our guards down,'' Wanganeen said.

``Geelong are an up and coming side, they've got some really exciting youngsters, they've got a good blend of medium experienced players as well, so we expect a very tough game this week.

``They've come off a bad loss last week and we'll be in for a big game this week, no doubt about that.''

Wanganeen also said Geelong's experienced goal kicking dangermen, Ronnie Burns and Peter Riccardi, always had to be closely checked.

And with Port's Brendon Lade (ankle) out injured and captain Matthew Primus (back) also rated unlikely to play, Geelong giant Steven King would provide their likely replacements, Barnaby French and Dean Brogan, with a huge challenge.

``King's a big boy and he gets his hand on the ball a fair bit,'' Wanganeen said.

``Hopefully, whoever comes in ... we need to keep the pressure on the ball like Matty does.''