Geelong won’t throw caution to the wind in their bid to lock up a top-two berth, with gun forward Tom Hawkins no certainty to return for Saturday’s crunch AFL clash with Sydney at Simonds Stadium.
Hawkins missed his team’s 66-point win over West Coast due to a back injury that had been causing him increasing pain in recent weeks.
The 25-year-old struggled to even bend over a week earlier against Port Adelaide, and will be monitored closely on the training track over the next few days to determine his availability.
With just two rounds remaining, Geelong are in the box seat to finish second and secure a home qualifying final.
But they will be in danger of finishing as low as fourth if they lose to defending premiers Sydney.
Geelong coach Chris Scott is optimistic Hawkins will be fit to take on the Swans.
But Scott is adamant the high-stakes nature of the match won’t influence his decision on whether to play Hawkins.
“He’ll be OK to train early in the week and we’ll push him reasonably hard,” Scott said.
“These things can be a little bit fluid.
“The early prognosis is that he has benefited from the lighter week on the track and from some of the intervention the medical staff have used.
“By Tuesday we will have a pretty good idea as to whether he’s going to play.
“Even though the game is crucially important, we will value four weeks’ time more than this weekend as far as Tom.
“We’re optimistic, but at the same time a little cautious.”
A fit-and-firing Hawkins is vital to Geelong’s chances of winning their fourth flag since 2007.
Hawkins was a key figure in Geelong’s 2011 premiership, booting three goals and setting up another in their grand final win over Collingwood.
But even if the 197cm spearhead isn’t fully fit, Geelong have enough weapons to win the flag.
Their offensive prowess was on full display against the Eagles, with midfielder Joel Selwood continuing his impressive recent run in front of the sticks with four goals in the 16.11 (107) to 6.5 (41) triumph.
Selwood booted just 33 goals in his first 97 games.
But in the past five weeks alone, the 25-year-old has kicked 14 goals, with Geelong’s only loss during that period coming against North Melbourne in round 19 when Selwood failed to kick a goal.
Cats veteran Paul Chapman made it through another VFL hit-out on Saturday and is in line to return against the Swans, while Steven Motlop is also set to be available despite being subbed out at half-time against the Eagles with hamstring tightness.