Hawkins raring to go for Cats in AFL

The mantle of Geelong’s No.1 forward sits comfortably with big Tom Hawkins, but he insists the Cats’ attack is anything but one-dimensional.

After last season missing out on finals action for the first time in nine years, the Cats are tipped to be among the AFL’s big improvers this season.

With highly-rated duo Dan Menzel and Nathan Vardy both enjoying some long overdue good luck in the injury front and boom recruit Patrick Dangerfield set to spend plenty of time resting inside the forward 50m arc, they do have more scoring options.

But the go-to man will still be Hawkins, who led Geelong’s goalkicking for a fourth straight year in 2015 with 46 majors and at the age of 27 is in the prime of his footballing life.

“I feel I’m better conditioned for the season, especially with the rule changes and it being cut to 90 rotations,” said a trimmed-down Hawkins, who will start the season at 105kg, down three or four kilograms from his playing weight of last year.

“I feel as a forward I’m going to need to stay out there a bit longer, to be a bit more versatile.

“I’m a lot better prepared for what the year is going to throw at me than I have been for the past couple of years.”

The wildcard in the Geelong forward set-up is Mitch Clark, who is still in the rehabilitation group trying to overcome a calf injury.

But the Cats have significantly fewer personnel problems than Hawthorn heading into the traditional Easter Monday blockbuster at the MCG.

The Hawks are unable to call on multiple premiership winners Jarryd Roughead (knee), Liam Shiels (wrist) and Bradley Hill (wrist).

Another notable absentee will be retired fullback Brian Lake, who has fought some memorable battles with Hawkins in the past.

“In some ways I’m glad to see the back of him although I loved playing on him because it was a huge challenge,” said Hawkins, who will likely be manned by either James Frawley or Josh Gibson on Monday.

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