Tom Hawkins to play as Geelong rule out Duncan, Bowes
Star Geelong key forward Tom Hawkins will be a massive inclusion amid mixed round-one injury news for the AFL premiers.
The five-time All-Australian has been out of action since October because of a foot injury, but will return for Friday night's blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG.
Coach Chris Scott also confirmed on Thursday that premiership teammate Mitch Duncan and Gold Coast recruit Jack Bowes will not play because of their calf problems.
Duncan first suffered the injury last month - a year after also missing round one because of a calf injury - and Scott said he will not return for the "next few games".
Scott said Hawkins had proved his readiness in the last few weeks.
"That was my suspicion probably about a month ago and he just had a ripping month," Scott said of Hawkins' round-one availability.
"We don't expect him necessarily to be as good (in) round one as he will be as the year evolves, but he's well and truly good enough to play."
Fellow recruits Ollie Henry (Collingwood) and Taylor Bruhn (GWS) will make their Geelong debuts in their season opener, with Scott saying Bowes will definitely be ready for round two.
Henry's brother Jack needed foot surgery late last month and it is unclear when he will return.
His absence means Esava Ratugolea will play in defence.
The last time Geelong played Collingwood the Cats won their epic qualifying final by six points on the way to the flag.
Magpies coach and Scott's former Brisbane premiership teammate Craig McRae channelled their Lions coach Leigh Matthews ahead of Friday night, bringing out the famous Predator quote.
Ahead of their landmark win over Essendon on the way to winning the 2001 premiership, Matthews used the movie line "if it bleeds, we can kill it".
McRae cheekily repeated that on Wednesday when speaking about the challenge of downing the reigning premiers.
"I laugh at everything he says, even when he's trying to be serious he's still funny. That's just the way he is," Scott said of McRae.
"His players must love it.
"To put a slightly serious note on it, that comment was made about an Essendon team that might have been, at the time, the best team of its era.
"How are you ever going to beat those guys? I don't think we're quite there."
Ratugolea was a fringe player last season and Scott hopes spending more time in defence will help his game.
"Across the pre-season, I guess the part I'm kicking myself a little bit with is he looks like a back to me," Scott said.
"I ask myself, did we make a mistake by persisting with him for too long in other positions?"