Kelly set to meet old Cats teammates

Once a Cat ... James Kelly in action for the Bombers. Photo: AAP Image.
Once a Cat ... James Kelly in action for the Bombers. Photo: AAP Image.

GEELONG must be getting used to coming face to face with former players on the battlefield.

The Cats met Steve Johnson when they played the GWS Giants in round two, and then Josh Walker and Allen Christensen against the Brisbane Lions last week.

Today they will get reacquainted with two three-time premiership players Matthew Stokes and James Kelly, as well as former fringe player Mitch Brown when they play Essendon at the MCG.

Both Stokes and Kelly are shouldering a heavy burden as Bomber top-up players after being carted off the ground as Cats on the shoulders of then teammates in the final round of last season.

But, Kelly, who played 273 games for Geelong, has been very good for the Bombers after they talked him out of retirement, averaging 28 disposals a game.

"It's probably going to be hard at the start of the game, but you don't want to make it harder than it has to be by going over and over it and playing the game in your head before it gets there," Kelly told media yesterday

Having been pushed out the door by Geelong after 14 seasons of service, Kelly should expect a warm welcome by Cats fans.

"I wouldn't expect it to be hostile. I was happy when I left, I didn't leave on bad terms, so I would expect I'd just be a normal opposition player," he said.

While fellow veteran Ryan Crowley has been omitted from John Worsfold's team, Sydney premiership player Craig Bird comes in.

Tom Lonergan is the big inclusion for Geelong, with the fullback expected to be assigned the task of minding Joe Daniher.

Sidelined Essendon superstar Dyson Heppell, meanwhile, is reportedly set to launch a legal claim against the Bombers for more than $1 million in compensation following his 12-month ban by WADA.

Rival clubs will no doubt see that as an opening to pounce on the midfielder, though the Bombers will be desperate to keep him despite the looming threat of court action.

- TERRY MALLINDER



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