GREATER Western Sydney has swung a major late change for Friday night's semi-final against Geelong with Jesse Hogan succumbing to yet another calf injury.
He will be replaced in the starting side by former captain Phil Davis with mid-season draftee James Peatling the Giants' medical sub.
The Cats will enter as named with Zach Guthrie chosen as their starting sub over Shaun Higgins.
Greater Western Sydney: Jesse Hogan (calf) replaced in selected side by Phil Davis
Geelong: Zach Guthrie
Greater Western Sydney: James Peatling
Hogan missed eight weeks with a calf setback sustained in May having initially sat out the opening six matches of the season with a quad injury.
It comes as a major blow after he booted two critical goals in his first career final against Sydney last week.
It leaves Leon Cameron with Davis, Sam Taylor, Nick Haynes, Jake Stein and Connor Idun as key defensive options meaning one may be pushed forward. - Mitch Cleary
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Geelong is in an all-too-familiar position after losing in the first week of finals for the fifth consecutive season. This time, it has also lost three of the past four matches, starting with a loss to Greater Western Sydney in round 21. The Giants have won their past four matches starting with that victory over the Cats, each of them essentially a knockout final in a late-season charge. Patrick Dangerfield will play despite a hand injury while veteran defender Zach Touhy has replaced Mark O'Connor (hamstring). Crucially for the Cats, Tom Stewart remains sidelined. The Giants will be missing Toby Greene, Tom Green (arm), and Sam Reid (hamstring), but they have showed recently that they know how to beat the Cats even when undermanned.
Where and when: Optus Stadium, Friday September 3, 5.50pm AWST
The teams: Latest selections here
WHAT HAPPENED THIS YEAR?
The Giants were playing off a five-day break and had to make eight changes to their team but stormed out with a four-goal-to-one opening term. The Cats came home strong to get within nine points in the final term but the Giants steadied to complete a stunning victory. Stand-in skipper Toby Greene was the driving force with four goals but was later suspended for one match for striking Patrick Dangerfield.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Several Cats will be desperate to bounce back from yet another disappointing display in the first week of finals and none more so than Patrick Dangerfield. The Cats superstar had nine turnovers in 23 disposals and it remains to be seen how much a fracture on his right hand is limiting his impact. Gary Rohan was shifted to half-back last week but should start forward again where he will want to prove that he can step up in September. Rohan now averages fewer than nine touches and 0.67 goals in 21 finals. Joel Selwood is breaking Geelong's all-time games record and there is no doubt the warrior captain will make his mark.
Greater Western Sydney
A forward line without Toby Greene (average 2.5 goals) will be less potent and creative but the Giants will hope they still have the firepower to worry a Cats defence missing Tom Stewart. Jesse Hogan claimed a career-high six contested marks and kicked two goals in his first final, while Harry Himmelberg (32 goals) has had perhaps his most consistent season. Reliable set shots Daniel Lloyd and Zach Sproule are usually good for a few goals too. And the dynamic Bobby Hill comes into the team.
THE STATS THAT MATTER
The Cats have a horrible record in the first week of finals but have at least been able to turn it around to win each of their past three semi-finals. For all that the Cats like to retain the ball and control the game with uncontested marks and disposals they have only failed to win the contested ball count five times this season – and lost each of those matches including to the Giants in round 21.
Greater Western Sydney
The battle-hardened Giants have now won at least once in each of the five finals series they have played. No team has let in more inside 50s this season than the Giants and while getting smashed in that count didn't quite cost them against the Swans last week (46-65) or Cats in round 21 (43-64), it will be a concern against a forward group that includes Tom Hawkins and Jeremy Cameron.
IT'S A BIG WEEK FOR…
Jeremy Cameron was brought to the Cats to help them win big finals and will now have an opportunity to do just that in his first game against his former team. The key forward only kicked one goal last week but has averaged 2.7 this season (fourth-best in the League) and should be ready to fire in his fourth match back from a hamstring strain.
Greater Western Sydney
Stephen Coniglio might be working his way back from a nasty toe injury but now has to find a way to inspire a team missing the talismanic Greene. The Giants captain had only 11 disposals at 46 per cent efficiency last week and needs to hit the scoreboard if he can't boost the midfield.
Geelong by 22 points. The Cats have a habit of bouncing back from first-week finals disappointments and should be too strong and settled for a Giants team again hit hard by suspension and injury.