Cats hope patience sets up Dangerfield to thrive

Patrick Dangerfield is hopefully over his injury concerns.

Geelong is confident a slow-burn approach to Patrick Dangerfield’s hamstring recovery can prime their veteran skipper to explode in the back half of the AFL season.

Dangerfield, 34, has endured a frustrating opening three months, restricted to just four games between multiple hamstring setbacks.

The powerful midfielder had been listed as subject to a fitness test to face leaders Sydney at the SCG on Sunday but ultimately wasn’t cleared to play.

Geelong had the bye before facing in-form Carlton tonight, and coach Chris Scott indicated Dangerfield would be pencilled in for that match, after an extra two weeks’ recovery.

“We’ve flagged for a long time that we’d be conservative,” Scott said.

“Look, he could play this week, he’s been training really well, but we think in the context of the wider season that it’s just best to hold him back and have him primed for the Carlton game, which he’ll play.

“This is an important game for us, they all are, but not as important as the 10 home-and-away games that follow our bye.

“We want to get ourselves in a position where we can really have a crack at the back half of the season and holding him back complements that theory.”

Dangerfield was famously managed through lingering calf injuries in 2022, thanks to a mid-season training block.

He exploded into form in the second half of that season to play a crucial role in Geelong’s run to the premiership.

Scott stopped short of suggesting the Cats’ current approach would deliver the same outcome – but indicated it had influenced their thinking.

“Pat’s a little frustrated because he’d like to play but completely sees the big picture,” Scott said.

“It’s not as if we don’t have a precedent for this – not only with our broader list but with him specifically.

“It’s a similar model to the one we implemented in 2022, and we’re not saying that’s how it’s going to pan out, but we’re saying we’re trying to give ourselves a chance to do a similar thing.”