TRAVIS BOAK says his Port Adelaide side does not consider its Qualifying Final against Geelong a free hit, despite the knowledge that it will have a second home final regardless of the result.
Port will take on the Cats on Thursday night and having finished top of the ladder will either move directly into a Preliminary Final or host a Semi-Final at home in Adelaide depending on whether it wins or loses.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Boak said his side was desperate to continue its good run of form and make its path to a premiership easier.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to come up against a good side and hopefully set us up for a Prelim at home,” he said.
“But I wouldn’t see it as a free hit. We’re going out there to win.
“They’re obviously in really good form as well so it’s going to be a pretty hotly contested game.”
Boak has played in nine finals, making him the most experienced finals player on Port’s list, alongside Justin Westhoff, who was drafted in the same year and has played the same number.
He said he would have some wisdom to share with the playing group about being present.
“It’s all about the moments and you’ve got to stay within the moment in those games,” he said acknowledging the playing group had addressed that in 2020.
“We’ve had some big games this year against some really good sides and the challenges we’ve faced throughout the year are what helps your team grow and it’s the same within finals.
“There’ll be challenges in games – whether it’s momentum swings or mistakes and higher pressure but it’s just about accepting that and getting on with the moment and staying within the moment – that’s what finals footy is.
“It’s going to be a heated contest so you have to stay within what we do as a footy club and what you do as an individual.”
Boak’s own form has been brilliant again in 2020. On Thursday night he was rewarded with All-Asutralian selection for the third time and the vice-captaincy of that team.
He also finished runner-up in the AFLPA MVP award and in the top three of the AFL Coaches’ Association Champion Player of the Year award, backing up his best and fairest win in 2019.
He said even at the age of 32, he is feeling great.
“I still felt like I had a lot to give (a couple of years ago), I just had to find that, and probably let go of a lot of things and a lot of control with the captaincy, and my performance – I just really wanted to perform and that’s all I was worried about,” the former skipper said.
“Once I separated who I was as a player and who I was as a person I was able to play with a lot more freedom and I think that’s what helped me over the last couple of years, and I’m just really enjoying my footy.
“Everyone can keep calling me old but I don’t feel old and for a lot of us now, age is just a number.
“It’s not until you start to feel it in your body and your mind that you start to question if you can keep going on but for me, I’m still really motivated, I still feel really good and this time of year going into finals I feel great.”
While the individual recognition has been pleasing, Boak is hell bent on going deep into finals.
In his first season in 2007, he played in a losing Grand Final and he would love to go one better in 2020.
“It’s been a while and we haven’t played too many finals in between that as well so I think we’re in a really good place as a playing group and what we’ve been able to build over the last couple of years and the connection and the resilience we’ve built within the group – I think we’ve matured so well,” Boak said.
“We go into this finals campaign with a lot of confidence, but also knowing that we’re up against some big challenges and it starts against Geelong on Thursday.”