The West

Cats strong whoever plays: Sandilands
Michael Walters at Fremantle training today. Pic: Bill Hatto/WA News

Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands is preparing for a huge challenge from Geelong at Simonds Stadium on Saturday night, whether Steve Johnson is out there or not.

Star Cat Johnson was offered a one-match ban by the match review panel yesterday for dropping his knees into North Melbourne’s Scott Thompson but the club have decided to challenge the suspension at the AFL Tribunal this afternoon in a bid to have their key midfielder available for the clash with the Dockers.

Fremantle’s tagger Ryan Crowley has been sent to Johnson in the last games between the side, including a second-half shutdown in last year’s qualifying win at Simonds.

“He’s a quality player,” Sandilands said.

“They’ve got a heap of quality in their side - that’s why they’ve been good for over a long period of time.

“If he doesn’t play, I’m sure they’ll have someone who will come in and replace him.”

Sandilands said they had reviewed the narrow win over Carlton and were enjoying their second consecutive long break to work on their deficiencies.

“We reviewed it in depth and we identified the areas we need to improve on and we had a really good session today,” he said.

“They’re always good games to be involved in.

“They’ve (Geelong) been one of the best sides in the comp over a long period of time now, and you want to play against the best sides.

“It’s going to be a big challenge this weekend, but we are really looking forward to it.”

Michael Walters looked lively during this morning's open training session at Fremantle Oval as the Dockers weigh up whether to reintroduce the star forward through the WAFL or against the Cats at Simonds Stadium on Saturday night.

Captain Matthew Pavlich jogged laps alongside young forward Michael Apeness, who also suffered concussion playing for Peel Thunder on the weekend.

Tendai Mzungu (hamstring), Scott Gumbleton (leg), Kepler Bradley (hamstring) and Clancee Pearce (hip) went through a series of testing under the watchful eyes of staff after hitting the track late.

Sandilands said he was looking forward to Walters’ return to side, but was unsure if he would come back through the WAFL.

“Just the way he goes about it - it’s just good to have him back out on the park at the moment, and really looking forward to getting him back in the side,” he said.

“His forward pressure and agility in the forward 50m is second to none, and he’ll be good for us.

“All I do know is when he does come in he’ll be fit and ready to go and he’ll contribute to the side.”

Sandilands was also unsure whether Pavlich would line up against the Cats.

“He was on light duties today,” he said.

“It’s real important that we look after him – concussions are serious things.

“He will be monitored throughout the week and we’ll see how he goes throughout the week.”

The West Australian

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