‘Not quite what he was’: Coach’s frank admission

AFL Rd 8 -  Melbourne v Geelong
Geelong star Tom Hawkins has been goalless in his last four games, for the first time in his 18-year career. Picture: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Geelong coach Chris Scott concedes Tom Hawkins could be “a little bit off” but insists the veteran forward is fully fit after he was again held goalless on Saturday night.

The four-game spell without a goal is the longest of the 35-year-old’s career, but had not put the brakes on the Cats’ unbeaten run until both he and Jeremy Cameron failed to hit the scoreboard in the eight-point loss to Melbourne.

Scott said he was “not too flat” with the defeat after remaining within striking distance on what he described as an off-night.

But he was disappointed by an overuse of the ball in dewy conditions as the Cats slipped behind Sydney on percentage to second on the ladder.

“I thought our guys adapted as the game went on. Clearly we handballed too much, but the bottom line is we had our chances to win the game,” Scott said.

AFL Rd 8 - Melbourne v Geelong
Geelong coach Chris Scott was optimistic about his side’s competitiveness on an ‘off-night’ after an eight-point loss to Melbourne at the MCG. Picture: Dylan Burns / Getty Images

“I don’t think there would be many of our guys that would be thinking they had very good days, but we were pleased with the way they hung in there.

“My initial instinct is to come away from the game thinking I’m not too flat with it. I don’t like losing, but I think we come away and go a few finishing touches, and the game’s very different.”

Scott said Hawkins, who will next week play his 355th game and draw equal with Joel Selwood as Geelong’s games record holder, would be rested again “at some point” after he sat out the round 5 win over North Melbourne.

But the coach was adamant there was little concern over the Geelong legend’s form.

“Yep … it’s not a physical thing,” he said when asked if Hawkins was fully fit.

“My suggestion would be, you’ve watched him at the peak of his powers, and now the observation is ‘he’s not quite what he was’.

“But when he kicked a couple of bags of four earlier in the year, he looked a little bit more like himself to me, so maybe a little bit off, but it’s not a physical thing.

AFL Rd 8 -  Melbourne v Geelong
Geelong champion Tom Hawkins’ goalkicking has dried up with the first ever four-game goalless streak in his career. Picture: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

“We’ll manage him through the year. Again, given the slippery conditions, that we quite set up ahead of the ball as well as we could have, and that looked a bit better in the second half – I wouldn’t isolate it to Hawkins.”

Two uncharacteristic late misses to Cameron with the game on the line had surprised Scott, but the coach said he still would have wanted the ball in the star’s hands one more time if Geelong had received the opportunity.

Scott played down concerns over a shoulder injury to Tanner Bruhn, saying the midfielder did not appear to have any structural damage despite being subbed out shortly after halftime.

“He just got a knock to his shoulder – we were keen to get Rohan into the game a bit earlier than we normally would given the conditions,” Scott said.

“It was more a contact injury as opposed to a dislocation or a ligament issue … they tell us there’s no issue there with a crack or anything like that.

“I don’t like the idea of guys playing sore, and limiting his chances of playing next week when we have a fresh guy sitting there.”