Cats ponder Lachie Neale AFL tag

Geelong is debating whether to put Brisbane Lachie Neale’s ball magnet down ahead of a midfield match that could determine their AFL preliminary round.

2020 medalist Brownlow had a stellar string of finals, saving 39 eliminations and 15 removals against Richmond with 29 touches and 10 removals against Melbourne.

Neale once again presents himself as a key figure for Friday night’s match at the MCG, but Cats midfielder Cameron Guthrie wasn’t sure if Geelong would turn into a tough tag.

“It’s tough,” Guthrie told reporters on Monday.

“You don’t want to just let someone like that do their thing, whatever happens, and you think they’re going to be okay and we’ll let them be, because that’s not the team we are and the way we want to play.

“But sometimes he will be influential and I think it’s just about stopping his influence and being a really solid midfielder against him.”

Mark O’Connor has already tagged and played roles with Neale, including going one-on-one with him in the fourth round.

But the Irishman was only used as a substitute in the qualifying final against Collingwood, replacing the injured Jake Kolodjashnij in defense, and Guthrie didn’t know if he would be called up.

“Mark has done a great job in that area in the past, but he hasn’t been in midfield much later in the year,” he said.

“So I can’t answer your question (if O’Connor is coming), but I think we have some options up our sleeve.”

Between the farewell to the pre-finals and last week, the Cats are only preparing for the second game in a month.

But Guthrie, who faced a shoulder bump sustained in Round 23, was confident they had balanced their training to allow them to thrive against Brisbane.

Forward Jeremy Cameron, whose hamstring strain benefited from the exemption, felt that healthy cats were perfectly positioned to aim for their first flag since 2011.

“You look at your list and how healthy it is this time of year and we’re in a good space there,” he said.

“Everyone is powered up and ready to go and we want to attack whatever is in front of us.

“So it’s definitely a great opportunity, so it’s something we want to take advantage of.”

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