Geelong coach Leon O’Neill has vowed not to underestimate the SEABL’s ‘new kid on the block’ despite dispensing a defeat to Diamond Valley in the sides solo battle during the 2018 pre-season warm-up.
“We certainly won’t be taking them any lighter for the fact that we beat them, they’re a really well coached team,” O’Neill said in preparation for just the second home game for the Supercats this year.
“They’ve got a number of very good players with SEABL experience in Dyson King-Hawea and Darcy Harding, in particular, along with a couple of quality imports.
“They’re going to be tough and with three losses in a row we’re really going to need to be on our game to make sure that we don’t make it four in a row.”
O’Neill concedes the return to The Geelong Arena comes at a critical time in a quest to snap an uncustomary losing streak.
“It’s been a long time, we had the game one against Mt Gambier and then we had the bye and then up to Canberra and then Ballarat, and then down to Tasmania,” he said.
“It seems like a long, long time since we’ve been at home and hopefully we can regain that good form that we had against Mt Gambier and we can turn The Arena into a bit of a fortress.
“We’d certainly much rather be playing at home than away, that’s for sure.”
Geelong’s incredibly rich record of success in the SEABL makes the three-game losing streak all the more uncharacteristic.
“It’s not very often that we come in with a losing streak, but we probably won’t pay too much credence to it to be honest,” O’Neill said.
“Certainly something that’s in the back of my mind is that we don’t want to make a habit of losing, but the players are very resilient and if we can play the way we did against Hobart, I’ll be rapt.
“The guys were very, very good, but just unlucky.
“If we can bring that level of intensity, that level of desire and attention to detail, especially on our home floor, then I think that we are going to be very, very tough to beat.”
What initially looked like a corked calf for former Australian under 17-representative and 2018 addition, Michael Luxford, now appears marginally more sinister and is expected to keep him from the action.
“It looks like it’s a slight calf strain,” O’Neill said of the 23-year old from Hoppers Crossing.
“He saw the physio on Monday and they’re saying it’s seven to 10 days with what he’s got.
“With so many games left in the season we probably won’t take any chances on him.
“While we would like to have Mickey out there, we’re still confident going into this weekend, particularly with Matty Johns returning.”
While Geelong sits in 12th –place with a two-three record, the visiting Eagles are in 15th on the 16-team table with one-win, coming by one point against Sandringham, from its opening seven games.