By Luke Voogt
Geelong will rely on the strength of Tom Hawkins and the dynamic leap of Gary Rohan against Carlton on Saturday to fill the void left by injured forward Jeremy Cameron.
“[Cameron’s injury] changes the look of our forward line which is not preferable, but it’s not necessarily a complete negative,” Cats coach Chris Scott told a press conference yesterday.
“It looks like the conditions are going to be pretty good, so forwards that can jump at the ball are going to be an asset, especially when they’re mashed up against [Carlton defenders Jacob] Weitering and [Liam] Jones … who like to jump at the ball themselves.”
Esava Ratugolea could also push forward for the Cats, with ruckman Rhys Stanley available.
“Our plan – irrespective of Jeremy’s condition – was to bring Esava back so that makes that even more likely,” Scott said.
Veteran forward Josh Jenkins, currently fourth in the VFL goalkicking tally, could also provide a boost for the Cats forward line if selected.
“We’re in a fortunate position where we do have some options that we like,” Scott said.
Scott was confident Cameron’s hamstring injury was “not a very long-term issue” but said the Cats would be patient with his return.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, even if he makes a really quick recovery, that we err on the side of caution, because there’s still seven games to go and hopefully a decent finals series for us, so there’s still time.”
At the other end of the ground, Lachie Henderson is set to play his 200th game despite the Cats delisting him in 2019.
Henderson has made the most of his second chance since the Cats re-selected him at pick 35 in the rookie draft, matching up on and often nullifying key forwards.
“It’s clear to us internally how important he’s been for us and I’d like to think our club’s been good for him too,” Scott said.
“He was really good for a period of time there and then it did look like it was almost coming to an end his time – or our time together – and he’s found a way reinvent himself.
“He’s always been a selfless player but he’s taken that to another level.
“I don’t think he’s driven by individual accolades or even playing for as long as he can. He just wants to be as good an influence [on the] team as he possibly can.”
Henderson and the Cats’ defence will have their work cut against the Coleman Medal leading forward Harry McKay.
Meanwhile, veteran forward-midfielder Shaun Higgins, speedster Jordan Clark, tag specialist Mark O’Connor and silky midfielder Sam Simpson all loom as selection options for the Cats.
“We’re fortunate to have a couple coming back,” Scott said.
Scott said the Cats were focussed on having Higgins at “peak health” toward the end of the season.
“He hasn’t hit the heights that he’s capable of with us … but we’re still confident that he will.”
Scott also praised the “underrated” Sam Menegola, playing his 100th game and Zach Tuohy, playing his 100th game for the Cats for helping to create a culture that people “want to be a part of”.
“They’ve had a big influence on who we are today,” he said.