Thursday, 21 June 2012
Geelong may be seventh on the ladder, but Sydney veteran Ryan O'Keefe still rates them as one of the AFL's benchmarks.
After 12 rounds, the Cats aren't looking as well placed as they were during premiership-winning seasons in 2007, 2009 and 2011.
But O'Keefe still holds them in the highest regard, admitting Friday night's SCG blockbuster against Geelong carries a little extra importance for his side.
"They're still one of the benchmarks," O'Keefe told AAP.
"From the way the season's panning out every game is going to be crucial in terms of ladder position - and this is a huge game, it could be an eighth-point swing."
The Cats are blooding a new guard this season.
Seven players have made debuts - the highest tally in the league with the exception of newcomers Greater Western Sydney - while youngsters Cameron Guthrie and Taylor Hunt have gotten plenty of games.
The fact those names don't carry the same lustre and experience as last year's premiership captain Cameron Ling has been highlighted by many.
But despite losing midfield general Ling, O'Keefe regards the Cats' engine room as one of the best in the league.
"No (they haven't dropped off)," he said.
"They're still class players and a quality team - the depth they've got is as good as any team.
"They'll be going into this game just as powerful an opponent as they ever have been."
Former Cat Shane Mumford is another that won't be underestimating his old side.
"It's doesn't matter where they are on the ladder," Mumford said.
"Because they're such a great team and have been for so many years.
"It only takes one little thing and they're right back on track and almost impossible to beat.
"It'll take our best and hopefully we can deliver it."
The Swans will be boosted by the returns of Ben McGlynn from suspension and co-captain Adam Goodes, who will play his first game after a six-week layoff with a quadriceps tear.
The Swans have suffered three losses since Goodes succumbed to his injury and O'Keefe admits the dual Brownlow medallist's comeback will be a boon.
"It speaks for itself with what he's achieved and the fact he's captain of the club," he said.
"His presence is huge. Any team that loses key players - it hurts them."