Sporting Cats stick together
Sporting Cats stick together

His own team opens the new NBL season away to Wollongong on Friday night, but Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge will also have half an eye on another set of cats this weekend.

Beveridge is anything but a keen AFL follower, however, he has been caught up in grand final fever this week and revealed a deep admiration for Mark Thompson's dominant Geelong team.

Since missing the finals in 2006, the AFL's Cats have played in three successive finals series and racked up an impressive 81 per cent winning ratio, claiming the 2007 premiership along the way.

That record has been enough to catch the attention of a veteran basketball coach, who hails from a region regarded as 'enemy territory' by AFL types.

"Coming from Canberra it's a rugby league town and I have friends that play for the Canberra Raiders," Beveridge said.

"I'm not really an AFL fan, but I like Geelong. I really like them because I felt that many, many years ago they were one of the lower ranked teams and Mark Thompson has built a team over time.

"I've seen the success that they've had, they've been in the last three finals and that's what I do like about them."

Beveridge has backed the Cats to deny grand final opponent St Kilda a second AFL premiership in Saturday's decider.

"I'm going to go with Geelong because of the amount of points that they scored last week," Beveridge said.

"I like the way they were more open, more free, whereas there was an arm-wrestle and grind with St Kilda (against the Bulldogs). I prefer the more open game, so I think Geelong."

Beveridge sat on the fence in claiming that he doesn't favour either of the WA's struggling AFL outfits. But the northern suburbs resident admitted that he might fit in well at a derby day barbecue with the neighbours.

"When I was over here in the early 90s it was the Eagles, they were the team here, so I guess if anything I'm heading towards the Eagles," he said, before adding that he would like to pick the brains of Eagles coach John Worsfold and Fremantle mentor Mark Harvey.

"When I came over they were right in the middle of their season, but now that it's the off-season for those guys I'd really love to meet them and have a chat and talk to them about how they prepare teams and travel.

"I've already done it with (WA cricket coach) Tom Moody, that was great, and I want to develop that with the AFL teams and Perth Glory as well."

The West Australian

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