Geelong have assured power forward Tom Hawkins he should feel no pressure to return to AFL action until he is fully ready following the death of his mother.
About 30 Cats players and officials – along with AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan – attended Wednesday’s funeral of Jennifer Hawkins in the NSW town of Finley.
As the wife of former Cats star Jack Hawkins and the mother of one of their modern-day greats, Jennifer Hawkins was well known to many at the club.
Tom Hawkins withdrew from last weekend’s clash against Gold Coast and yet to decide whether to return against North Melbourne on Sunday, although coach Chris Scott confirmed he would be named in an expanded squad of 25.
“He’s had commitments which we’ve obviously respected and supported over the last few days but, physically, he’s in really good shape,” Scott said on Thursday.
“(The decision is) virtually all Tom.
“The only thing we need to be clear with Tom about is that he understands it is completely his decision and that he doesn’t owe us anything in terms of playing this weekend.
“If Tom decides to play, he will have our full support.
“But if there is any doubt there, I think we will push him to have another week (off).”
Hawkins has not trained with his teammates this week.
Whether or not Hawkins plays against North Melbourne, the Cats will be fielding an uncommonly inexperienced side.
Midfielders Jimmy Bartel (knee) and Mathew Stokes (ankle) and central defender Tom Lonergan (concussion) all failed to finish last weekend’s narrow win over the Suns.
Triple premiership player Andrew Mackie (quad) is also unavailable.
The Kangaroos bounced Geelong out of last year’s finals series, but Scott insisted he had no desire to use that to gee up his players on Sunday.
“This year is where we’re living,” he said.
“I’m not a believer in the motivation of previous years driving you in this game.
“We will be absolutely ready for this game and will throw everything at it.
“But no matter what happens, we can’t make up for the past anyway.”