THURSDAY night’s Qualifying Final between Port Adelaide and Geelong could be a battle between two of the healthiest lists in the competition with both sides having near full-strength squads to choose from.
The Cats have cleared both Tom Atkins and ruckman Rhys Stanley to play with Atkins overcoming soreness that saw him rested for their narrow Round 18 win over Sydney and Stanley ready to resume after missing three games with a groin injury.
If Stanley returns, he could replace Esava Ratugolea who has been in and out of the side in 2020.
The Cats have also confirmed Zach Tuohy as a certain starter despite the defender managing knee soreness.
Geelong has won seven of its last eight games even while resting players during the peak football period when there were short breaks between games.
It managed to welcome back experienced campaigners Gary Ablett, Gary Rohan, Jack Steven and Joel Selwood against Sydney when the Swans pushed them all the way in a less than impressive performance by the Cats.
Geelong coach Chris Scott would just have been pleased to get some game time into his key players and the four points.
It has been a good week for the Cats with midfielder Patrick Dangerfield named the captain of the All-Australian team and Tom Hawkins and Cam Guthrie also recognised.
Hawkins was also crowned the Coleman Medallist as the league’s highest goal scorer for 2020.
Geelong’s most recent losses (in round 9 against West Coast and Round 17 against Richmond) came against premiership contenders, but it will take confidence from a big win over Thursday night’s rivals Port back in Round 12.
The Cats hold an impressive record against Port, having won 23 of the 34 meetings between the sides with one draw, back in 2000.
Most recently Geelong has won five of the last six meetings and 19 of the last 22 matches to firmly hold the wood over its finals opponent.
The last time the sides met in a Qualifying Final was in Port Adelaide’s 2004 Premiership year with Port winning by 55 points at Football Park.
The Cats will fly up to 28 players to Adelaide on Wednesday before returning as a squad on Friday.
They’ll name their side on Wednesday evening for the game at Adelaide Oval the following night.