Tom Hawkins responds to AFL retirement fears as Geelong reveal return to play timeframe

The Cats player suffered a foot injury in their heavy loss to Carlton.

Tom Hawkins has moved to ease concerns that he might have played the final game of his AFL career, with Geelong revealing on Tuesday they hope to have him back in six weeks. Hawkins injured his left foot while pushing off for a lead during Geelong's 63-point loss to Carlton last Friday night.

The 359-game player underwent surgery on his left foot at the end of the 2022 season, but coach Chris Scott revealed after the game that the latest ailment isn't in the same part of the foot. Hawkins turns 36 in July - and with speculation he might retire at the end of the season - he was left facing a nervous wait to find out the seriousness of his latest setback.

Tom Hawkins, pictured here with his family.
Tom Hawkins is facing the reality that he might have played the final game of his AFL career. Image: Getty

On Tuesday, the Cats said their games-record holder suffered an atypical mid-foot joint and ligament injury and will be sidelined for 6-8 weeks. "Tom has already been in the club today and commenced his off-foot training," Geelong's football manager Andrew Mackie said.

"He'll remain in a boot for the next couple of weeks before progressing based on clinical signs. Tom is in a positive and optimistic mindset and we are confident he will give himself the best chance to have an impact later in the season."

Speaking to reporters on Monday after getting scans, Hawkins tried to remain upbeat that his career wasn't over. "(It's) a bit disappointing, but I am still pretty optimistic," he said. "I'm always pretty optimistic about life in general. Once I find out the information I will put together a little bit of a plan. I can respect that there is interest with age and current form, but it (whether it's the end of his season or career) is far from my mind at the moment."


Hawkins, who has amassed an incredible 796 goals in his career, said he sustained the injury performing the same movement he had done countless times before. “It’s one of the things kids picked up on actually, they’re not too worried about the foot,” he said.

“But look, it was just a movement that I do every day at training and playing. Just put my foot under a bit of load, I don’t know. I don’t think there was necessarily much in the actual incident other than to say I do it all the time and it’s not something that’s new. Just maybe a twist or turn or an uneven part of the surface, I’m not sure.”

Tom Hawkins, pictured here after hurting his left foot in Geelong's loss to Carlton.
Tom Hawkins hurt his left foot in Geelong's loss to Carlton. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Teammate Patrick Dangerfield said he didn't want to speculate on the seriousness of the injury. "We were able to get scans over the weekend, but there's a bit of complexity around it," Dangerfield said. "It's a question for our medicos and for really experienced people in that industry, and we haven't quite got those opinions yet.

"There's a fair bit to work through. Tom's had a history with that foot, so that adds to the complication and challenges with understanding scans when there's a fair bit happening there already. We'll get a greater picture of that today, tomorrow, and potentially the back end of the week."

Geelong have lost six of their last seven matches, sending them down to seventh with an 8-6 record. Saturday night's clash with Essendon looms as a significant one for the Cats, who will be without Dangerfield unless he can successfully overturn a one-match ban for a dangerous tackle at the AFL Tribunal.

"The list is always in a transition phase, I think that's regardless of whatever position you're in - whether you're in 17th or you're in first," Dangerfield said on Monday. "We'll always pick the best team, but at times it does provide opportunity to blood some younger players. We still feel we're absolutely in the hunt this season. There's a few little tweaks we need to make in order to improve, that's clear, but by no means is it insurmountable."

with agencies