Geelong coach Chris Scott says he was tempted to bring talented forward Mitch Clark into the line-up to face St Kilda but feels more game time in the VFL will have him primed for the AFL finals.
Clark hasn’t played a senior game since round nine last year, his first with the Cats, as he battled a persistent calf problem.
He has since been impressing in the VFL and in his third match back last round he delivered a best-on-ground performance, booting five goals.
Scott said he considered bringing Clark back for the Etihad Stadium match on Saturday night but felt it was smarter to wait until after next week’s bye.
“It was really tempting to bring him in because he played a couple of really good games at VFL level,” Scott said in Geelong on Thursday.
“We know from the numbers that he’s fitter than he has ever been in his time at Geelong so that gives us great confidence that post the bye he’ll be ready to contribute, but even then there is no great rush.
“We’re clearly about Mitch being a factor for us later in the season so a week here or there doesn’t really bother us too much.”
Clark will partner fellow key forward Tom Hawkins, who Scott backed to improve on a patchy season to date.
“We’ve been happy with him to an extent … we think we play better when he’s in the team but … he feels like he’s building and he’s going to get better,” Scott said.
“While he’s an important player there’s no doubt that the second half of the season could look better for Tom.”
The Cats climbed to the top of the AFL ladder with wins over top-four teams in the past three weeks but Scott said that didn’t mean they could ease off against 12th-placed St Kilda.
They have recently fallen to Collingwood and Carlton, who are both out of the eight.
Scott said the Saints played well on their home ground, delivering a 32-point win over Carlton in their last match before their bye.
“Offensively they are a real threat, they move the ball fast and their football is built around pressure and work around the contest,” Scott said.
“It would be naive to think their pressure won’t be a problem for us at times.”