THE GAME'S greats reserve a special acknowledgement for the deeds of other greats.
For Patrick Dangerfield, one of those moments came in last season's Grand Final when Dustin Martin was compiling a performance which was to secure a third Norm Smith Medal.
"I can remember a passage of play where I just chuckled to myself, because it was just too good, and he was that," Dangerfield revealed to AFL.com.au in an interview ahead of the season.
"And he has been such an incredible player on the biggest stage so often, he has done what no one else has done before."
That it was Martin who extinguished Dangerfield's own first chance of a premiership in the 13th season of his own extraordinary career has actually assisted the champion Cat to deal with that heartache.
"We had a great season, and Richmond is a phenomenal team, but they have also got one of the greatest players to ever play the game, so it makes it a bit easier," Dangerfield said.
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"He was just … sometimes you just have to take your hat off and go, 'too good'. If you beat yourself up too much over someone like Dusty, then you're banging your head against a brick wall because players like him are few and far between … sometimes the greats are just too good."
It has emerged since the 2020 Grand Final that Dangerfield played last season with a groin injury which severely restricted him throughout. Without intensive treatment, much of it through appointments with Adelaide-based soft tissue expert Steve Saunders, Dangerfield's ability to continue dominating football matches would have been curtailed.
Geelong coach Chris Scott recently revealed that without intense treatment Dangerfield's problem could have become "chronic".
"Everyone has different injuries, you can say you were sore for some games, but then what do you say when you pay well in other games?," Dangerfield said.
"All players manage certain injuries in their careers, it is just one of those things, I lost some power some times.
"… I think we're on the right path at the moment, but that is always the challenge when you have something recurring over a period of time."
Despite the injury forcing him to play more as a forward in 2020, Dangerfield secured an eighth All-Australian jacket.
The Cats have added Jeremy Cameron, Shaun Higgins and Isaac Smith to their list since the Grand Final loss to Richmond, a recruitment program in which Dangerfield and other senior Cats' players were included.
"Upper management has always been very honest with us with about the make up of our team and what the possibilities are," Dangerfield said.
"It is important, because these things don’t happen at the end of a year, it is always happening a long time before that. And if you’re not, those opportunities pass you by. We have been active as a club on having a view on who we could go after."
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On the specifics of targeting Cameron, Dangerfield said:
"It was maybe Jez and his fishing and his passion for that, sometimes you need to get a better understanding of what is going on off shore and when the tuna run comes in and how that may look.
"I've known Jez for a long time, we talk about fishing, and if I could jam in footy as well, well …"