Rhys Stanley’s promising first season with Geelong has come to a premature end, with the athletic ruckman to undergo surgery next week on his injured foot.
The 24-year-old landed awkwardly in a marking contest during the round-11 win over Port Adelaide and sustained extensive ligament damage.
The club had hoped Stanley would be able to avoid surgery, but after seeking medical advice the decision was taken to have screws inserted in the foot to allow Stanley to regain stability.
Stanley hopes to resume low-level training within three months.
“Due to the fact there was no clear break, we were hopeful Rhys would avoid surgery,” Geelong football manager Steve Hocking told the club’s website.
“It’s disappointing for him and the club that he will miss the rest of the season, but on a positive note, he will be able to complete a full pre-season.”
The long-term absence of Stanley – who has been a revelation since joining Geelong from St Kilda at the end of the 2014 campaign – is a further blow to the Cats’ injury-ravaged ruck division.
Hamish McIntosh (calf) and Nathan Vardy (knee) continue to battle long-term injuries, Mitch Clark is also sidelined with a calf issue and Dawson Simpson has played only three senior matches this season due to a shoulder complaint, although he did make a successful return in the VFL last weekend.
The makeshift ruck pairing of Josh Walker and Mark Blicavs were monstered by Melbourne ruckmen Max Gawn and Jake Spencer in the breakthrough 24-point victory by the Demons on Sunday at Simonds Stadium.
The 10th-placed Cats have the bye this weekend, with their next match away to Adelaide on July 5.