Cats’ Dangerfield eyes elusive AFL flag

A fit, firing and focused Patrick Dangerfield has never been in a better position to land an elusive AFL premiership, but he is determined not to overthink his second grand final.

Dangerfield was part of Geelong’s team that led Richmond by 22 points in the second quarter of the 2020 grand final at the Gabba, only to lose by 31.

Two years on, the minor premier will head into Saturday’s grand final against Sydney as favourites.

The 32-year-old said he and the Cats had learned not to magnify the occasion and put too much pressure on themselves.

“It’s a different team, it’s a different time,” Dangerfield told reporters on Tuesday.

“You understand the occasion. You don’t try and build it up too much, because it is a game – we’ve played a lot of them this year.

“We clearly know what’s at stake.

“But it’s not making it so big that you feel insignificant compared to the task at hand. It’s keeping that front of mind.”

While keen not to overplay the occasion, Dangerfield underlined his delight at contesting another grand final.

“You’ve got to embrace the week and everything that it holds,” he said.

“It’s a privilege to still be playing this time of the year, not too many teams get the opportunity.

“So embrace and enjoy that part of it. It’s a special, special time to still be playing.”

The 2016 Brownlow medallist struggled with calf issues earlier this year and did not play between rounds 10 and 16 as the Cats got a heavy training load into him, eyeing a pay-off at the back end of the season.

The plan worked to perfection as Dangerfield racked up 28 disposals, booted two goals and had eight clearances in a match-winning preliminary final performance against Brisbane.

“It’s just good to feel fresh and ready to go,” he said.

“But even if you didn’t, it’s a grand finale, so it doesn’t really matter how you feel.

“It’s what you do. It’s how you perform, and that’s ahead of us.”

Dangerfield was coy when asked whether he hoped to line up at the first center bounce on Saturday, only noting “Everyone does”, while relishing his first tilt at a premiership at a packed MCG.

Above all, Dangerfield has a steely focus on the game’s biggest prize – the one big hole in his decorated footy resume.

“It’s everything. It’s what you play footy for,” he said.

“There’s not too much more to it than that to be honest. That’s why you play the game.”

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