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Hawks v Cats: Who will have egg on faces?

SOME players just have all the luck.

Travis Varcoe and Joel Selwood made their debuts with Geelong in 2007 ... and what a time to come into the side.

Varcoe has played 119 games since his first in round two that year and has an incredible win-loss record of 102-17 - his winning percentage of 85.71 the best of any player in VFL/AFL history who has made more than 100 appearances.

Selwood, who stepped out for his first game in the season opener, comes in second on that list with an 81.71% strike-rate after enjoying 134 wins from 164 games.

You wonder if they ever feel for a guy like Matthew Warnock, who debuted the same week as Selwood, but has gone on to experience just 18 wins in 85 games with Melbourne and Gold Coast.

Geelong has, of course, won three premierships (2007, 2009, 2011), with one runner-up finish (2008), two third-placings (2010, 2013) and a seventh (2012) since.

The only players who are beginning to rival the record of the Cats' pair are from Hawthorn, specifically three who debuted in 2011, Isaac Smith (84.85%), Luke Breust (84.29%) and Paul Puopolo (83.58%).

After the Hawks trumped the Cats for the '08 premiership, a premiership hangover caused a few headaches in 2009 and 2010, but they regathered themselves to make a preliminary final in 2011 and a grand final in 2012, before securing another flag in 2013.

It says a lot about both clubs' staying power - or their ability to, not so much rebuild, as to renovate on the run - that almost six years since meeting in a premiership-decider, they again head the ladder as the only undefeated teams.

Geelong will field 10 players from that last day in September 2008, and Hawthorn six when they clash in their fifth annual Easter Monday blockbuster at the MCG today.

The Cats may have lost Gary Ablett (Gold Coast) and Paul Chapman (Essendon), and others to retirement, but Steve Johnson, Jimmy Bartel, Harry Taylor, James Kelly, Matthew Stokes, Andrew Mackie, Corey Enright, Tom Lonergan, Selwood and Varcoe are still going strong, while teaching youngsters such as Cam Guthrie and Taylor Hunt the 'Geelong way'.

Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli, Grant Birchall and Jordan Lewis remain keys for the Hawks, but the line-up has changed dramatically through top trading (Josh Gibson, Jack Gunston, Shaun Burgoyne), shrewd drafting (Smith, Puopolo, Ben Stratton) and rookie cultivation (Breust, Matt Suckling).

As the greatest modern-day rivalry continues, Hawthorn will go in as favourite today, but though it ended its run of losses to Geelong at 11 in last year's preliminary final, it is yet to bring home the chocolates on Easter Monday.

WHO GETS THE CHOCCIES IN '14?

Easter Monday clashes

R1 2013 - Geel 93 def Haw 86

(Hawks led by 20 at 1/2 time)

R2 2012 - Geel 92 def Haw 90

(Hawks led by 18 at 3/4 time)

R5 2011 - Geel 117 def Haw 98

(Hawks led by 14 in third term)

R2 2010 - Geel 100 def Haw 91

(Hawks led by 24 at 1/2 time)


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