BETWEEN 2010 and 2013, Tom Lonergan matched up on James Podsiadly during many sessions of training.

Now the Geelong key defender is preparing to take on his good mate in a match for the first time when Podsiadly makes his debut for Adelaide in Thursday night's clash with the Cats at Simonds Stadium.

"I'll look forward to the contest," Lonergan told "We'll have to try and keep him in check.

"He was a great player for Geelong over so many years, and I respect him highly.

"He's a pretty smart footballer, knows where to run. He's got a lot of good attributes.

"He's obviously a pretty strong sort of fella and moves really well, and he'll be pretty keen to show Adelaide his worth."

Fellow Cat Jimmy Bartel, who will celebrate his 250th game on Thursday night, admits that seeing Podsiadly in an Adelaide jumper will take some getting used to.

"It will be a bit strange, seeing big ‘Podra’ running around for the Crows," Bartel said. 

"He's another great mate I've met through the footy club, and I hope he does well. 

"But I hope he doesn't kick any against us, because he is such a damaging player.

"He was a big part of our 2011 premiership, so I hope he goes well, but not this Thursday." 

Geelong players will come up against premiership teammates on a number of occasions in 2014, with former Cats defender Josh Hunt now at Greater Western Sydney and three-time flag winner Paul Chapman running around for Essendon.

"I think that's just part and parcel of footy these days," Lonergan said. "Players move freely between clubs now, and it's just one of those things.

"(Podsiadly) will no doubt have a few sledges for each of us and we'll give him a little bit along the way, but it will be all good fun."

With veterans like Podsiadly, Chapman and Hunt now at other clubs, the Cats' side that takes on Adelaide will feature plenty of youth.

But Lonergan is adamant that the club can continue to meet its aim of rebuilding and competing for the premiership at the same time.

"Our goal is still to win a premiership and we'll be fighting tooth and nail to do so," he said.

"We've just got to drag the young guys along with us. We'll demand excellence from them and make sure they're preparing as best as they can.

"We'll be trying to make the finals, and then top four and a premiership after that."