Hawkins in for the long haul with Cats
RETIREMENT NOT ON THE HORIZON FOR STAR FORWARD
Melbourne: Win or lose, Friday night’s preliminary final won’t be anywhere near the end of the road for Geelong veteran Tom Hawkins.
The Cats spearhead finished second behind Harry McKay in the Coleman Medal race, falling marginally short of taking out the goalkicking award he won last year.
Hawkins has since added seven goals in two finals, including five as the chief destroyer in the semifinal victory over GWS in Perth.
It put Geelong on a collision course with minor premiers Melbourne as the two sides vie for a grand final berth at Optus Stadium.
Hawkins, 33, is likely to be one of 10 players aged in their 30s in the Cats’ team against the Demons, and there could be a significant shake up of their list on the horizon.
But having signed a two-year deal last November, the 301-game champion is contracted for next season and doesn’t envisage hanging up his boots any time soon.
“I still feel confident each week that I can go out and perform at a high level,” Hawkins told the Nine Network yesterday.
“I’m encouraged by the fact that our side is having success.
“I’ve had a good season this year and I still feel physically able to go and perform.
“To be honest, I’m loving playing football … when I’m not enjoying my football or I start to find it becomes a bit of a struggle is when I think time will be up for me.”
Hawkins was full of praise for teammate Zach Tuohy – another veteran who had a big say in keeping the Cats’ premiership hopes alive against GWS.
Tuohy tallied a team-high 31 disposals on return from a hamstring injury and will be important to Geelong’s chances against Melbourne.
The Irishman missed the teams’ most recent meeting in round 23, which the Demons won by one point after rallying from 44 points down midway through the third term.
“He’s very good defensively but his ability to be able to find teammates and distribute and challenge the opposition off half-back is key to us playing well,” Hawkins said of Tuohy.
“It was great for him to come straight back in and have an impact off the back of a hamstring injury.
“It was nice to have his experience and class back there for sure.”