Geelong coach Chris Scott acknowledges there is plenty of theatre involved in AFL clashes against Fremantle.
Geelong coach Chris Scott fully understands the theatre surrounding the Cats’ modern-day AFL rivalry with Fremantle.
Given Scott’s combative nature as player during a 213-game career with Brisbane, it’s probably fair to assume he rather enjoys the byplay.
It’s just that he doesn’t believe it will play any meaningful role in deciding who actually wins Saturday’s big game at Patersons Stadium.
The Dockers have emerged triumphant in three of the past four clashes between the two sides, including a monumental upset in last year’s qualifying final at Simonds Stadium.
Fremantle duo Ryan Crowley and Hayden Ballantyne have a special knack of getting under the Cats’ skins, with Steve Johnson often playing the same role for Geelong.
“It will be a pretty fierce contest, I don’t think anyone shies away from that,” former Dockers assistant coach Scott said on Tuesday.
“My personal view is that the niggle is over-rated – always has been, always will be.
“But it’s good for the theatre.
“The Freo crowd probably aren’t a big fan of Steve Johnson and the Geelong crowd probably aren’t a big fan of Ryan Crowley and Hayden Ballantyne.
“But it’s a little bit different when you know them personally as well.
“They’re the kind of guys where you’d love to hate them, but you don’t.
“I guess on one level if you want me to say ‘yeah, it’s going to be fiery, and there’s going to heaps of niggle and we’ll be at each other’s throats’ then I’ll say that if you want.
“You just know I don’t really believe it.”
Ballantyne has undergone minor jaw surgery this week, but the Dockers remain hopeful the feisty small forward will be fit to take his place against the Cats.
The Cats will welcome back defender Andrew Mackie from a hamstring injury, probably in a straight swap for suspended midfielder Mathew Stokes.
“Mackie is an important player for us, an All-Australian defender, a member of our leadership group and an important part of the way we play,” said Scott.
“If you take out a player of that calibre there tends to be a bit of a domino effect.”
A win on Saturday will see the Cats draw level with Port Adelaide atop the ladder.
Fremantle sit further back in eighth place with a 4-4 win-loss record, badly needing a victory to build some momentum ahead of a bye the following weekend.