‘A spread of players that you can’t stop’

The two best teams from this season have made it to the grand final and this week on the Real Footy podcast, Mathew Stokes joins Michael Gleeson, Jake Niall and Caroline Wilson to preview the game.

The Cats are in the best position they’ve been in since the 2011 premiership, with an unstoppable spread of players. No longer do they have to rely on the likes of Tom Hawkins and Patrick Dangerfield; the load is spread among others, such as Tom Atkins and Cam Guthrie. A win would help make the decision to retire an easy one for Joel Selwood, who could go out a premiership-winning captain. But the Swans are dangerous opponents. Their run and carry and the way they move the ball forward could provide headaches for Geelong.

What will be the most important match-up of the weekend? What might be Geelong’s Achilles heel? Swans ruckman Tom Hickey has been among his team’s best throughout the finals. Is the ruck a danger area for the Cats? How likely is it that Max Holmes plays and what do the Cats need to look for in his replacement if he doesn’t?

We also take a look back at the preliminary finals. Sydney felt like a football town on Saturday, despite the AFL going up against NRL finals, and the TV ratings were enormous. The Swans established a lead and tried to protect it; Collingwood’s comeback was led by coaching and improved ball movement. Sam Reid’s injury had a big impact on the game, as did the decision to start Brayden Maynard on Lance Franklin.

We look at what makes Scott Pendlebury so great, the positives for Collingwood and where they fell short. A lockdown defender to help Darcy Moore could help them build on this year’s success and become a force in 2023.

The Lions’ season ended last Friday night, far more quietly than Collingwood’s, with a loss to Geelong. The Lions lack a player they can rely on in the crunch, save for Lachie Neale. Is Josh Dunkley, or someone like him, the answer? Or does trade period hype cloud the issue? Does Joe Daniher work hard enough up forward? Brisbane have got some work to do, and it looks like their premiership window is closing.

Also this week, Melbourne’s All-Australian defender Libby Birch joins the podcast to talk about their loss to Brisbane in the top-of-the table clash on Sunday and what it means for the Dees going forward, Monique Conti’s brilliance and how the Richmond midfield is coming together, Carlton’s second straight draw and milestone wins for some of the newer teams.

Plus, Stokes’ view on the AFL’s handling of the minute’s silence in the AFLW Indigenous round, the discussion around Patrick Cripps’ Brownlow Medal win and his overturned suspension late in the season and much more.

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