Superb run

JOEL Selwood is yet to play 50 matches, but by Saturday night, the Geelong star could be celebrating consecutive AFL premiership victories.The young gun from Bendigo has had an amazing run since he was drafted by the Cats at No.7 in the 2006 AFL national draft.Selwood’s debut season included being a runaway winner of the NAB Rising Star award, and the Cats finally breaking a 44-year premiership drought.There have been no “second year blues’’ for the 20-year-old midfielder, who polled 19 votes in the Brownlow Medal, second highest in a line-up beaten just once as it pursues back-to-back premiership wins.The boy from Bendigo was fifth in the Brownlow and will play game 45 in the grand final.Selwood said yesterday he was not daunted by the pressure leading into Saturday’s showdown with Hawthorn at the MCG.“The expectations are still high, but last year there was a lot more pressure,’’ Selwood said of striving to end the Cats’ run of grand final defeats last September.Although he is one of the youngest players in the line-up, Selwood has quickly become a key player in Geelong’s midfield, which includes the brilliance of Gary Ablett, Jimmy Bartel, Joel Corey and Cameron Ling.It’s not just Selwood’s precise disposal and hard running that have set up many attacks, but also ferocious tackling and one per cent plays.“All of my career I have worked really hard on the basics,’’ Selwood said.“I am not the fastest player, or most skilful, but tackling is one of the easiest to do, and is now really important.’’When he was younger, Selwood enjoyed watching the play of Sydney Swans captain and Brownlow medallist Paul Kelly.“I have never worked at playing the same way as someone, but watched how they played and tried to learn from watching them,’’ he said.A Hawthorn line-up renowned for its ferocious attack on the contest will give its all against the reigning champions.“Pressure, one per cent plays, and helping teammates are areas we really pride ourselves on as a team,’’ Selwood said.In Saturday’s clash at the MCG the Cats’ midfield will take on the likes of Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis, Rick Ladson, Chance Bateman, Shane Crawford and more. Because of so many midfield changes, Selwood said he could have a variety of Hawks’ opponents throughout the clash.Back in round 17, Selwood won 31 possessions as the Cats beat the Hawks by 11 points at the MCG. Selwood has starred from the time he first played for St Therese’s, then Kennington-Sandhurst, Sandhurst, and the Bendigo Pioneers.His final year with the Pioneers was rocked by a knee injury which restricted him to just three matches.“I wanted to keep playing, but the club insisted I get the knee right.“The support I had from Mark Ellis (coach), Ray Byrne (regional manager), Bob Fletcher (player welfare), and the whole club was fantastic,’’ Selwood said of his time as a Pioneer.Playing on the game’s biggest day is something many have achieved, but thousands more have not.For the Selwood family it’s the fourth consecutive year one of them has played in a grand final.Adam was in West Coast’s team beaten by Sydney in 2005, and then triumphed against the Swans a year later.Joel’s play on Saturday will be closely followed by his parents, Bryce and Maree, and his talented brothers - Troy, Adam and Scott - who play for Brisbane Lions and West Coast respectively.