Geelong will be without explosive Cat Esava Ratugolea for the near future with the ruck-forward set for a stint on the sidelines after he underwent ankle surgery this week.
Ratugolea was nearing a return as he worked his way back from shoulder and ankle injuries when he injured his ankle on the training track late last week.
“After specialist consultation it has been decided that Esava will undergo an operation on his ankle to give him the best chance to play as soon as possible,” head of medical and conditioning services Harry Taylor said.
Fellow ruck Rhys Stanley will be hoping to overcome his own ankle injury in time to face St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
Cats coach Chris Scott said he was confident Stanley would pass a fitness test and be available to play.
“He’s tracking well, we think he’ll play,” Scott said.
“He was obviously close to getting to the line last week without quite making it. We were always optimistic that he’d come up this week.”
Scott said he was also confident captain Joel Selwood would be fit to play after suffering a corked quad and missing the win over Greater Western Sydney in Canberra last week.
“He had a series of corks in his quad that just meant that he wasn’t going to be right to play and I think we’ve been consistent throughout the course of the year … in that our priority is to make sure that all our guys go out and play when they’re in a position to play at their best,” he said.
“We don’t want to ask those guys and push through things that limit them too much. The week off will help Joel a lot.”
Shaun Higgins also missed last week’s win with soreness and Taylor said he would need to pass a fitness test to play.
Jed Bews won’t face the Saints after copping a heavy hit from Giant Jesse Hogan.
“Jed suffered a concussion in the game against GWS and will follow the AFL concussion guidelines,” Taylor said.
Midfielder Sam Menegola is close to returning after his comeback from knee surgery was interrupted by a bout of concussion.
“Sam has made some significant gains as he gets close to a return,” Taylor said.
“He’ll progress back into the main training group this week, with the view to play in the near future.”
The club continues to monitor key defender Jack Henry as the medical and conditioning team waits for Henry to be pain free before ramping up his training loads, despite his foot being structurally sound.
“Jack is progressing well in his reconditioning plan. He has increased his training loads and we hope to see Jack back out there soon,” Taylor said.
“He is an important and highly valued member of the playing group.”
Dashing youngster Max Holmes is on the recovery trail after successful surgery last week.
“Max had a successful operation on his ankle injury and will now follow a reconditioning plan that we hope will have Max back out in the hoops in the medium term,” Taylor said.
“Max has had a terrific start to the year and continues to bring great energy to the group, despite his recent injury.”
The Cats will have more to play for this week, with Chris Scott set to break the record for most wins as Cats’ coach if Geelong defeats St Kilda.
Last week’s win over GWS moved Scott into equal first place with Cats legend Reg Hickey on 184 wins.
“I really struggle, and always have as a player and especially as a coach, with individual acknowledgments,” Scott said.
“But what I am really proud of is what the club has been able to achieve over a ten or twelve year period. I think a long, long time after I’m finished I might reflect on some of those things but I consider the coaching position to be a product of the support that the club gives me, and even more, a product of the playing list we’ve been able to put together.
“I’m so proud of the job they’ve done … effectively we have rebuilt a list over a 10 or 12-year period without access to top 10 picks.
“If you had told me we would do it the way we have done it, back then, I would have been nervous but I’m so proud to be a part of this club so I really struggle to think about what it means to me as an individual.
“I would much prefer to think about what it means to us as a collective.”