Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says he'd be absolutely shocked if umpires allowed Ryan Crowley to be excessively targeted off the ball during the AFL finals.

Crowley has forged a reputation as the best tagger in the business, with his close-checking tactics often prompting angry outbursts from his victims.

Rival teams have attempted to break Crowley's tag by getting players to bump, niggle and wrestle him off the ball.

Crowley is set to be handed the job on star Geelong midfielder Joel Selwood in Saturday's qualifying final at Simonds Stadium.

Selwood was restricted to just 13 possessions when the teams last met, and was left visibly angry over some of the tight-checking tactics Crowley employed.

Adding to the intrigue is the recent bitter rivalry between Geelong and Fremantle, with Cats coach Chris Scott predicting Saturday's match could turn spiteful.

Crowley and pesky goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne will be the two most hated players in Geelong this weekend.

And should Geelong devise any untoward tactics in a bid to halt Crowley's influence, Lyon hopes the umpires will be on to it.

"He'll get physically targeted on and off the ball," Lyon said.

"I just think he should get the protection afforded to every player on the ground.

"We all just want equality and fairness and I'm sure that's the way the umpires treat it.

"I'd be shocked, absolutely shocked if umpires treated any player on an AFL field any differently, whether they were a full back, full-forward or a strongly-accountable midfielder."

Geelong have won 43 of their past 44 games at Simonds Stadium, and completely outplayed the Dockers when they met there in round 14.

Fremantle were missing key players Michael Barlow, David Mundy, Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands and Lee Spurr in that game, and are confident of reversing the result this time around.


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