Geelong star Patrick Dangerfield has come to the defence of Saturday's qualifying final hero Gary Rohan, who proved to be a match-winner for the Cats following well-documented criticism of his previous finals performances.
Prior to his side's thrilling victory over Collingwood, Rohan had recorded an average of 8.76 disposals and a return of 16 goals from 23 finals appearances, leading to censured comments from those in the media as recently as the past week.
But in defying those doubters Rohan proved to be a difference in Geelong's six-point win, recording three goals from 14 disposals while assisting Max Holmes' match-winning major with just over a minute on the clock.
The performance gained widespread praise given Rohan's history on the September stage, with Dangerfield expressing his delight to see the 31-year-old step up to the occasion.
Dangerfield took aim at critics whose "use-by date in footy has expired", suggesting they may not have a clean grasp on the role Rohan plays in Geelong's system.
"He was fantastic 'Chucky' (Rohan)," Dangerfield told Cats Media after the game.
"He plays a role that is really difficult to be super consistent in. We recognise internally how important he is to us.
"Quite often I think some of the criticism that he receives... the people, their use-by date in footy has expired because they don't clearly get the modern game.
"He's enormous for us every week. He enables other players to do the special things they do, so for him to get the rewards tonight was special for a really, really special person, great player and terrrific teammate."
Rohan's third goal of the game was arguably the high point in the Cats' win, with the medium-sized forward leaping to out-mark Pies pair Nathan Murphy and Darcy Cameron, before converting his set shot from outside 50 and regain the lead with just minutes remaining.
Gary Rohan stepped up on the big stage in a big way 👊 pic.twitter.com/2GSgAFT5XK
— Phú Đẹp Trai Ricky (@PhuRicky) September 3, 2022
Geelong senior coach Chris Scott was hesitant to speak on the criticism that has surrounded Rohan's past September performances, however echoed Dangerfield's insight into how the club views the former Swan internally.
"It is gratifying, I don't mind saying that," Scott said post-game.
"We are really clear on what he can bring to our team, in the way we play.
"He's absolutely an energy giver. His teammates love playing with him. I'm just really proud of him today."