Geelong's Cameron Ling will be a lost man when he wanders out on to Subiaco Oval for Sunday's AFL clash with West Coast.

In previous years Ling, one of the best shut-down players in the competition, was handed the tough assignment of nullifying star midfielder Ben Cousins whenever the Cats confronted the then-mighty West Coast juggernaut.

When Cousins was dumped by the Eagles at the end of 2007, Daniel Kerr became the centre of Ling's attention whenever the teams met.

Ling said he was "hardly shattered" when Kerr's one-game suspension for striking Carlton's Marc Murphy was upheld by the AFL tribunal earlier in the week.

But with Kerr out of the picture this weekend and Cousins and Chris Judd no longer at West Coast, Ling admits he has been left with no clear-cut opponent to shut down.

"I don't know who the coaches will look at getting me to go over to now," Ling said.

"There are probably four or five guys who I could get."

Prolific midfielder Matt Priddis looms as Ling's most likely opponent but youngsters Chris Masten, Matt Rosa and Brad Ebert could also feel the wrath of the Geelong nagger.

Tagging has become an art for Ling and it is an art he has long mastered.

While many in his business attempt to frustrate their opponents by using somewhat dirty tactics - the pinch, the scratch, the off-the-ball punch to the guts - Ling has developed a reputation as being one of the fairer taggers in the competition.

"There's different types of taggers," Ling explains.

"Some rely on scrapping and holding and pinching and all that sort of stuff, some rely on just work rate and making good decisions against their opponents.

"Some bend the rules and others don't.

"I don't think I'm pigeon-holed into any one type of tagger, it's just a matter of trying to beat my man and hope it helps the team."

While Gary Ablett, Joel Selwood and Jimmy Bartel are regularly showered in praise, Ling is more than happy to be the hero behind the scenes.

"I enjoy it because I know how much the boys appreciate it," Ling said.

"I enjoy it because it's important for the team to have someone do that role.

"But at the same time at Geelong we demand that every player in the team is very accountable for the opposition and they are always aware of who their man is and where they are.

"There's not that role of just going out and racking up as many touches as you want, you've got to play with a balance and play your role in the team."

West Coast are desperate to avenge last year's humiliating defeats to Geelong - a 135-point spanking at home and a 99-point defeat at Skilled Stadium.

But once again it is shaping up to be a David and Goliath battle, especially once West Coast lost Kerr and David Wirrpanda (hamstring).

Geelong were dealt a blow of their own, losing important trio Tom Harley (hamstring), Harry Taylor (ankle) and Max Rooke for the match.

AAP

The West Australian

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