Coach gives Cats a break

Thursday, March 20
Geelong Advertiser _ Scott Morton

GEELONG players will be given the weekend off ahead of the season's opening round.

There are no practice matches or VFL games scheduled and coach Mark Thompson has ordered his troops to take it easy.

Light training sessions this week will be followed with more of the same next week as players concentrate on sharpening up their ball skills before meeting the Western Bulldogs on Sunday, March 30, at Telstra Dome.

Assistant coach Brendan McCartney said the club expected to have a full list of players to choose from, with no injury concerns.

``At this stage we envisage everyone being available,'' he said.

McCartney said players who had interrupted pre-seasons had been put on individually tailored fitness programs to ``make sure everyone is at optimum level''.

McCartney said it had been the Cats' most consistent pre-season in his four years at the club.

``I think in the way of results it's been our most consistent,'' he said.

``We've been thereabouts in almost every game. We've won three of our four games.

``We had a nasty patch in the middle of the Collingwood game but were competitive for a large portion of it so it has been the most consistent in my time here.

``And we've also done it in such a way that we haven't overworked individual players,'' he said.

``We've shared the load and given responsibility to young players.''

He said young forward Matthew McCarthy was one player pushing for senior selection after an impressive pre-season.

``The last two games he has been asked to carry the main structure of the forward line with Cam (Mooney) and Kent (Kingsley) unavailable and I think that'll be good for him long term,'' McCartney said.

``We feel we've got a pretty good AFL player on our hands.

``As the third tall he has attracted a little bit more attention because people are looking for us to add to our forward structure.

``They see that as an area where we can get better so Matt's stepping up has attracted a little attention.

``He's been pretty competitive and I think it'll be good for him that he's had to play on better quality opponents in the past couple of weeks.''