K rock Football

Mitch makes most of “mini” pre-season

Mitch Duncan in action during 2019. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

ON the back of a summer interrupted by hip surgery, a fully fit Mitch Duncan has made the most of a “mini” pre-season” over the last couple of months.

As the Cats begin to sharpen their focus on a Round 2 clash with Hawthorn at GMHBA Stadium next Friday night, the midfield star admits he was able to utilise the break to his advantage.

“I feel like I did enough work to play in Round 1,” Duncan said before training on Wednesday morning.

“I could have kept playing;  (but) whether I would have fallen in a hole in the middle of the year, I guess we’ll never know.

“Having those eight weeks, you manage to keep a bit more fitness in the legs.

“Training in small groups, it feels like you touch the ball a lot more, so that’s great for all players.”

Despite the less than ideal preparation heading into the Round 1 loss to Greater Western Sydney, the 28-year-old performed well, finishing with 21 disposals and three goals.

Averaging 0.57 goals per game over his last 103 games, Duncan admits more time out of the midfield and on the wing could lead to having a more significant impact on the scoreboard if the Cats can control the contested ball.

“We obviously have some really strong midfielders that can get the ball out wide,” he said.

“I’ve been playing a bit on the wing so just roaming up and down and kind of doing what I want, so it’s nice.”

“All midfielders like kicking goals and impacting the game, so I guess it is my role to do that.”

With the first bounce just nine days away, Duncan says Geelong has made it through initial contact training and match simulation with a clean bill of health, welcoming the bumps and bruises.

“It was good – it was good getting hit again,” he said.

“I’ve had my foot stood on that many times, so you have to get used to those little things happening.

“‘Scarlo’ (assistant coach Matthew Scarlett) has been running my group, so we’ve been put through our paces there, especially with the contact side of things.

Having played Round 1 in an empty GIANTS Stadium, the Cats have had a taste of what to expect at crowdless games.

However, Duncan admits it’s going to be a strange feeling to play for premiership points without the Cats faithful in the stands.

“Being in the system for ten years you get used to crowds, so no doubt it will be different,” he said.

“But you just have to roll with the punches and try and create as much energy and enthusiasm as a team yourself.

“We have some great players for that; Luke Dahlhaus, Jack Steven, Gary Rohan, they really bring the energy to the group, so they’ll be important.”

Much of the focus on the lead up to the game will be Hawthorn’s first trip down the highway since 2006, but Duncan warned against relying on the home ground advantage to be a factor in securing a win.

“They obviously are a well-drilled side; the ground will probably suit them,” he said.

“I don’t think we will change what we do. we are lucky we play the ground quite well here, we train here, we know the ground quite well, so probably that’s an advantage

“But it’s going to be a good game, that’s for sure.”

Twitter: @KanePitman