It’s a big night, for a few reasons.

It’s Paddy’s 250th, another great achievement for one of the greatest players of the modern era and the best footballer I’ve seen come out of Oberon High School (close second goes to James Allen).

He’s been outstanding to watch over the years and now to be playing with him feels surreal, his self-belief and athleticism is something I’ll always both admire and be jealous of. The number of times at training I’ve been on the receiving end of his stiff arm, explosive pace or brute strength is higher than I’d like to admit, but training against him and with him has been one of the best things for my footy, and I’m sure the other boys would agree.

It’s our first game in 12 weeks, and many will be curious to see how we perform. It feels strange hydrating again, and contemplating my pre-game meal is something I haven’t done for a while. It salmon and veggies tonight? Or will that not be enough carbs? Maybe sushi? Important decisions.

01:25 Mins
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Some Things Change

2020 Geelong Cats Member Guy Pearce explains why we will stay Geelong Strong.

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For me, the feeling leading up to a game is just straight nervousness and anticipation, gone are the days of being excited to run around and get a few kicks, all you want to do now is to contribute and play a part in what is a hopefully a successful night.

It’s important for me personally to have a clear outline of what is required of me. Something that amongst the chaos I can still have clarity around. It might vary slightly each week depending on our opposition, but my core objectives stay the same. My role isn’t rocket science, I need to halve or win my contests, run good attacking patterns and try not to let the opposing defenders advance the ball, but if they do, it needs to be under duress. These are the things I’ll try to keep in mind.

The rivalry of the Hawks is one that is etched into our clubs history, dating back to the Bruns incident in 85’, the 89’ Grand Final and more recently the Easter Monday clashes and the ‘Kennett curse’. It’s a privilege to play in games like these, games that I have watched intently over the years and as Scotty mentioned during the week, there would be a number of retired cats that wish they could be out there Friday night.

Lastly, it’s an important night as it’s our first opportunity to demonstrate on a large stage our support for our Indigenous players and the wider Indigenous community, as well as anyone that has been impacted by racism and racial inequality. It will be a great moment and one I will be very proud to have been a part of.