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Geelong Cats’ Patrick Dangerfield turns to NFL psychologist Michael Gervais to ease finals stress

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It comes after Dangerfield endured five preliminary final defeats and a grand final defeat in his 302-game career.

Speaking on the ABC, Dangerfield said he noted pre-game spirits were high in the dressing room as the Cats fielded the oldest 22 players in AFL/VFL history with an average age of 28 years and 173 days.

“Before the game, it just felt like we had a really balanced mindset building up, the game was tight at the start but we played the way we wanted to play,” he said.

The Cats are hoping that streak continues into the season’s opening weekend. There’s no reason to think that’s not the case, as they’ve won 15 matches in a row, with their revised game plan​​​​​​ and personnel changes in the summer are working well.

The Cats held a 60-6 scoring advantage through three quarters against the Lions on Friday, underscoring how strong they were on the rebound and how well they were able to free up punter and key playmaker Tom Stewart.

“We think we play our best football when we play the ball … and we can get a team in a slingshot,” Stewart said.

“I think a lot of quarterbacks around the league have embraced that.”

Veteran forward Tom Hawkins, who kicked four goals from 14 against Brisbane, said the Cats would enjoy a grand final week before narrowing their focus.

“I kind of forgot about the winning streak. The time of year means the streak is a little thin, but you want to keep it going,” Hawkins said.

“We have another opportunity, as we say internally, to keep our game going. I’m so excited to have so many people in our organization…it’s going to be special.

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“I felt it earlier in my career. I’m looking forward to enjoying a grand final week as a senior player.”

The Cats are in their sixth grand final in 16 years, underscoring their willingness to do whatever it takes to stay in the Premier League.

“This is my 16th season … so the organization continues to give us the opportunity to step up. It takes a lot of work to get to the finals and end up where we are,” Hawkins said.

The champion keeper won flags in 2009 and 2011 and has the chance to share another with skipper and stand-out partner Joel Selwood. The latter will this weekend break Hawthorn legend Michael Tuck’s long-standing record of 39 AFL/VFL finals appearances.

“Scotty [coach Chris Scott] said it beautifully – it’s hard enough to play one game of AFL footy and he’s overtaken Michael Tuck with 39. To get to 39 finals is just mind-blowing,” Hawkins said.

“For Joel, it’s special – you just see him breaking records.”

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