Patrick Dangerfield celebrates with the fans after the AFL semi-final win over the Swans. (AAP: Julian Smith)
He’s ‘Danger’ by name and now doubly dangerous as a tactical option for Geelong.
Patrick Dangerfield’s best-afield performance on Friday night gives his old club Adelaide plenty to think about ahead of their AFL preliminary final.
It will be the number-one question ahead of next Friday night’s clash: does Geelong start him in the centre or in the goal square as a one-out marking forward?
Starting Dangerfield up forward, rather than his usual midfield role, was a masterstroke that threw Sydney off balance in Friday’s semi-final.
He kicked four goals in the first half and the Swans defenders became so frantic about trying to stop Dangerfield, other Cats forwards were able to capitalise.
Cats coach Chris Scott was happy to muddy the waters about what might happen in a week’s time at Adelaide Oval.
“Do we win the first centre bounce? If we do, we’ll start him forward, but the hard part is winning the first centre bounce,” he said.
“Firstly, I reckon, we’ll acknowledge how difficult the opposition are going to be, to beat, and then hopefully come up with some things that are hard for them.”
It’s not the first time Dangerfield has played a key forward role — he kicked five goals in round 17 against Hawthorn when a foot injury restricted his mobility.
But this time, it was a deliberate ploy that worked brilliantly.
Scott said all the Geelong coaches and Dangerfield himself deserved credit for the move.
“When you have a really good player, if we’d put to him that we wanted to start forward and he was desperate to start in the middle, I reckon he would have started in the middle,” he said.
“But he was on board, he thought it could work.
“That one had pretty good support (among the coaches) early in the week.”
Patrick Dangerfield’s four first-half goals sent Geelong on the road to victory over Sydney. (AAP: Julian Smith)
Dangerfield said he knew mid-week that he would start in attack.
“I’m just happy to go along with what Scotty wants to do, what the coaches want,” he said.
Dangerfield made it clear during the week that after a poor game against Richmond, he was determined to bounce back.
“I’m always dirty when I play poorly, the same as all of our players,” he said.
“This is the time of year when you want to play well, this is the time of the year when it really matters.
“I was pretty fired up, so was our side, so were our coaches, so was James Parsons, so was Brandan Parfitt, so was Joel Selwood.”
Now he comes up against his old team for the first time in a final.
“I can’t wait, bring it on,” he said.
“I don’t know it if it’s extra spice, it doesn’t matter who our opponent is, we’re going to win. We have two games to go.”