There’s no great secret to breaking Ryan Crowley’s tag, it’s just a matter of teamwork and hard work.
Shutdown specialist Crowley will play a pivotal role in Saturday’s AFL clash between Geelong and Fremantle, two top-four sides likely to feature prominently in finals.
The expectation is Crowley will be sent to Steve Johnson at Simonds Stadium, the Cats star having been cleared by the tribunal earlier this week.
Dockers coach Ross Lyon seemingly confirmed as much earlier this week.
“We’ll make it a good week for Stevie. I think he’ll go to Stevie,” Lyon said of Crowley’s target in Geelong.
But Cats midfielder Mitch Duncan cast some doubt on Lyon’s words.
“Ross might be playing silly buggers. He might not even end up going to him,” Duncan said on Friday.
Cats captain Joel Selwood expressed similar sentiment on radio station 3AW.
“Myself, or Steve or even Mitch Duncan … (or Steven) Motlop. He could go to a number of players, so we’ll all prepare for him,” Selwood said.
But regardless of who Crowley ends up manning, Duncan warned his side must work as tirelessly as the master tagger.
“We’ll prepare for what we think will happen and even if it doesn’t happen there’s always plan b and plan c,” Duncan said.
“We’ve got to look after whoever’s getting chased by Crowley and we’ll do that as best we can.”
Duncan added that Crowley could expect some close-checking pressure, but that it’d all be above board.
“It’ll have to be,” he said.
“Because the match review panel will be looking at that battle pretty closely.”
Duncan noted the Cats will also have to keep a close watch on Fremantle prime movers Nat Fyfe and David Mundy.
“When Fyfe and Mundy are firing through the midfield, they (the Dockers) are pretty hard to stop,” he said.
“That’ll be one of our main focus areas, stopping their drive through the midfield.”
The two sides have developed a heated rivalry in recent years.
The Dockers have won four of the past five over Geelong, including two finals in two years.
Duncan believed there was no sense of retribution for a shock qualifying final loss to Fremantle at the same venue in 2013.
“I haven’t thought about it … it hasn’t been spoken about,” he said.