Cats' Smith back in familiar AFL territory

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Experienced Geelong recruit Isaac Smith has played in so many AFL preliminary finals that he says he's lost count.

For the record, he's preparing for his sixth as the Cats gear up for Friday night's showdown with Melbourne at Optus Stadium.

But one thing the former Hawthorn premiership star does know is that the penultimate match of the season is always the hardest to win.

"There's the anxiety of winning and the opportunity of playing the next week that's around that," Smith said.

"They can go either way ... sometimes the favourite is not in front and the pressure increases. I've been in both positions.

"It's going to be a tough game and there will be things being thrown up that spook both teams.

"Hopefully we're able to deal with it better than Melbourne is."

Smith made a shock switch to Geelong via free agency last October after 210 games, four grand finals and three premierships in his 10 seasons with Hawthorn.

The 32-year-old's arrival at Kardinia Park alongside fellow experienced recruits Jeremy Cameron and Shaun Higgins has helped propel the Cats to a fifth preliminary final in six seasons.

The flag that has agonisingly eluded Geelong for the past nine seasons is again within reach.

"You can't expect anything, but certainly coming over I was hoping and thinking we should be going deep into finals and giving it a bit of a challenge," Smith said.

"Expectations are interesting things in football - they can only go one way really if you don't hit them, but it's nice to be playing in a prelim again.

"Although it's different colours and different teammates, it should be a lot of fun."

Smith has played 23 of a possible 24 matches for Geelong this season, having been rested in round 21 to prepare for the finals.

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