Geelong utility player Mitch Duncan admits the Cats were their own worst enemy earlier this season, but believes that renewed team values have their premiership defence back on a strong footing.
A buoyant Duncan said he was excited by the prospect of returning home to WA to take on West Coast at Patersons Stadium.
The 21-year-old East Perth recruit said a ninth consecutive win over Hawthorn on Friday night had instilled confidence that Geelong were charging to their best form at the right end of the year.
Duncan said that while the Cats were rebuilding with some key players from their three-flag era already retired and others soon to follow, their best football was still good enough to match any other team.
The Eagles have lost three of their past four games and will fall out of touch with the top four if beaten by Geelong.
The Eagles will welcome back Darren Glass from suspension, but the return of Josh Kennedy (ankle) and Matt Rosa (broken jaw) is several weeks away.
Andrew Embley may return after getting through his second game in the WAFL.
The Eagles lost Brad Sheppard to a corked thigh on Saturday, but he is likely to be fit for Friday night's match.
Murray Newman injured a knee playing for Swans in the WAFL and will have scans.
Geelong have beaten Essendon, Adelaide and Hawthorn in the last three weeks to be equal with the Eagles on 12 wins.
Duncan echoed coach Chris Scott's regular claim that the team hoped to be at its best in the second half of the season and was emphatic the Cats could win their fourth premiership in six years.
"Definitely, 100 per cent. We always had the confidence that if we played the right way we could compete against the top teams even though we're in a bit of a building stage again," he said.
"But I can't see us dropping too much with the young kids who are coming through.
"There's a lot of upside and we're hoping to stay up the top.
"We've got our confidence to know we can compete at the highest level, love playing in big games and step right up to the plate when we need to.
"It'll be good to get back home and see the family and all that sort of stuff and obviously the team will also get a bit more bonding by getting away interstate. The Eagles are flying as well, so if we can stop their talls it will go a long way to winning."
Geelong have overcome poor starts earlier in the season as evidenced by the nine-goal opening term against the Hawks.
"It felt like we couldn't do a thing wrong," Duncan said.
He was at the centre of a late controversy in the nail-biting win over Hawthorn when he was not penalised for holding the ball deep in defence after a tackle by Cyril Rioli.
A free to Rioli would almost certainly helped the Hawks seal victory.
But Duncan said the Cats' courage to win added more momentum to their season.
"Everyone was pretty excited and obviously you gain a bit of confidence out of winning like that and playing how we did," Duncan said.
"We've got a few things to work on, obviously, as they came back (from 51 points behind) and we were down by eight points with three minutes to go."
"We've got our confidence … if we can stop their talls it will go a long way to winning." " *Mitch Duncan *