Geelong are far from burdened by the weight of being branded AFL grand final favourites.
Despite a catalog of near misses since their last premiership in 2011, defender Zach Tuohy believes the Cats could not be in a better mental space heading into Saturday’s decider against Sydney.
The Irishman has played finals in all six seasons with Geelong after he arrived at GMHBA Stadium during the 2016 trade period.
The 32-year-old has been a revelation with the Cats, desperate for team success after playing just three finals games across 120 appearances with Carlton.
Tuohy puts Geelong’s extraordinary consistency – 12 preliminary finals in 16 seasons – down to how the players are treated at work.
It is something that should put the Cats in good stead for the MCG battle with the Swans.
“We’ve got great leadership from the top down and the club’s a great place to work, so the players are happy coming in,” Tuohy told AAP.
“That’s driven by a lot of people, but in particular Scotty (Cats coach Chris Scott) created an environment where it’s relatively stress-free given the stressful nature of the industry.
“One thing our coaches are exceptional at is not forgetting how hard the game is to play.
“I’ve never made a mistake in a game, or we’ve never lost a game, worrying that I was going to be singled out or we were going to be slayed.
“Scotty and all the guys appreciate the game’s bloody hard. No one tries to miss a kick and no one tries to stuff up, so it just creates an environment where you know the coaches have your back all the time.”
Tuohy went through the pain of the Cats’ 2020 losing grand final against Richmond, and has experienced the heartbreak of three preliminary defeats.
But he remains grateful to be part of a club that continues to defy the naysayers and contend for the premiership every season.
“Part of the reason I came here is that I wanted to play for a club that historically has shown that they constantly put themselves out there and give themselves a chance at glory,” Tuohy said.
“With that comes the risk you fall short, and with that comes criticism, and we accept that.
“But I’m just proud that I play for a club that backs it up every year.”