Paul Chapman celebrates with Joel Selwood, Billie Smedts and Travis Varcoe after a Geelong goal
SINCE Geelong went down to Hawthorn in the 2008 Grand Final, Paul Chapman has made more than enough statements about not wanting to lose to the Hawks again.
So as he soaked up the adulation after the Cats' 10th straight post-'08 victory over Hawthorn
, the three-time premiership player refrained from making any more big calls.
Asked if his team now has a mental edge over the Hawks, he paused, grinned, then replied: "I don't know, really.
"They're four weeks behind in their preparation. They started the game a lot better than we did, so we've got a lot to work on.
"I mean, we've just got to keep putting scoreboard pressure on them and keep beating them.
"Mental? Who really knows. They're quality players and they've played in some big games in their time, so I'm not too sure whether there's a mental edge there or not."
When Chapman and his teammates trailed Hawthorn by five goals at the 24-minute mark of the third quarter, it seemed Geelong's depth had finally been tested to breaking point.
The Cats appeared to be dearly missing retired champion Matthew Scarlett, who was watching the contest from the K-Rock radio commentary booth.
They also seemed to be lacking the creativity and toughness usually brought to the table by fellow three-time premiership players Steve Johnson and James Kelly, who were sidelined through suspension and injury.
Yet their young brigade, led by Mitch Duncan, Billie Smedts and Steven Motlop, proved very much up to the task.
Listen to AFL.com.au's Adam McNicol talking to Paul Chapman after the gutsy win
"And they sort of got belted up a little bit, too," Chapman said. "Hawthorn are good at targeting your young blokes and they bounced back and took it on the chin.
"There's always a hole when you have great players like that not playing, but to the young kids' credit they stepped up.
"They play hard footy, the Cats play hard footy, and that's why the rivalry is so good. That's the way we like to play.
"We never want to lose. Look, Hawthorn are a great team and you always want to beat the great teams on the big stage, so it was probably really good for our young blokes.
"We probably had four or five who hadn't played against Hawthorn, or played for the Cats against the Hawks, so it was really exciting for them, and it was a great way to start the year for all of us."
While Geelong skipper Joel Selwood finished with a team-high 33 touches, Chapman picked up 25 touches in a performance that stemmed from his first injury-free pre-season in years.
"It feels good to be having a run, it feels good to be able to do what you ask of your body and it responds," the 31-year-old, who has gone into this season with just a one-year contract to his name, said.
"I was happy with my pre-season, but then you never really know until you get out on the park.
"I only played five quarters of footy in the NAB Cup, so I was probably a little underdone.
"But I was happy to get through, I was happy to do what I did, and I was more happy with the way the team played."