Hawthorn skipper Ben Stratton says the Hawks are relishing the prospect of playing the Cats in Geelong for the first time in 14 AFL seasons.
The Hawks haven’t played the Cats at GMHBA Stadium since 2006, with the AFL traditionally holding games between the fierce rivals at the MCG to allow for maximum crowds.
But with games being held behind closed doors for the foreseeable future, the Hawks will venture down the highway next Friday in what will be Stratton’s first Geelong trip after 189 AFL games.
“It’s gonna be great. I’ve never played down at Geelong so it’ll be nice playing at a ground we haven’t played at,” Stratton told reporters on Wednesday.
“I don’t think so many of the boys have either.”
Facing the Cats in Geelong is a less daunting prospect than normal, given the absence of the usual parochial crowd, but Stratton said the Hawks were preparing for the different dimensions of GMHBA Stadium.
“Obviously the oval’s a lot skinnier so (we’ve been) just marking out the oval, doing those standard things,” he said.
“We had a nice wet training day on Monday – so you’d assume down at Geelong you might get some average weather.
“So just preparing for those sort of things mentally and I think just in general to prepare for playing footy again, which we haven’t done for a fair while now.”
Cats midfielder Mitch Duncan played down any advantage of hosting the Hawks in Geelong.
“They’re obviously a well drilled side – I think the ground will probably suit them,” Duncan told reporters.
“I don’t think we’ll change too much what we’re gonna do anyway.
“We’re lucky, we play the ground quite well here, we train here so we know the ground quite well – so whether that’s an advantage, not sure. It’s going to be a good game, that’s for sure.”