'Day by day': Pies tackle challenge of fresh opponent

AT LUNCHTIME on Thursday, Collingwood was preparing for a Saturday clash with Gold Coast.

By 4pm, Collingwood was suddenly preparing to Geelong. Same time, same venue of Vic Park, different opponent.

Such is the landscape of football in the midst of a pandemic, with fixture changes needing to be made on the run after a positive COVID-19 case in each of Perth and Melbourne.

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"It hasn't changed too much. We'd obviously prepared heavily for Gold Coast and selected the team based around that," Pies coach Steve Symonds said.

"We got the call yesterday to say they'd been a change in attack, so we adjusted and did a bit of work yesterday afternoon on Geelong and what they'd been doing.

"The old saying is 'we'll take it week by week', but we're taking it day by day at the moment, really. It's just about what's in front of you, and we keep adapting.

"The pleasing thing is we get the opportunity to play and that's what it's all about. The girls are so keen to play and they're happy to play anywhere at any time, so we'll keep adapting."

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So, what goes into planning for a new opponent with 48 hours' notice?

"We've got our game style that we like to play and what we like to do, and we're going in with a team who we think will give our game style the best opportunity," Symonds said.

"It's just being mindful of what the opposition likes to do, whether they have someone who drops off (the stoppage) or bring someone up to the contest, where the hit zones are, how they shape up forward, how they set up behind the ball, all those little things.

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"There's a lot of similarities between each team, but everyone's got different DNA, so it's just about breaking down their DNA and going from there.

"They're actually not a bad side, the Cats, when you break them down. I had a look at their trial game (against Melbourne) as well, and what they showed in their trial game, they've got quite a bit of talent there.

"We're very cautious about them, and we have to play well, but we have to focus on ourselves as well."

Symonds confirmed Irish speedster Sarah Rowe would return this weekend, after missing round one with a minor shoulder knock.

Maddie Shevlin (wrist) will miss three to four weeks, while key position recruit Abbey Green (knee) is facing another week on the sidelines.

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There is no timeframe yet on All Australian defender Ash Brazill's return from a ruptured ACL, suffered in round four last year.

"She's tracking really, really well. She hasn't yet got to the 12-month mark in her rehab, but she'll keep training. Once they give us a date of when it's looking closer, we'll aim for that," Symonds said.

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