Dynamic midfielder Max Holmes was Geelong's best player in his VFL return on Saturday, putting himself in contention to take on Richmond at the MCG next weekend.
An ankle injury has kept the 19-year-old sidelined since Round 7, but his performance at Avalon Airport Oval against Werribee will ensure he’s a topic of discussion at match committee this week.
Holmes’ trademark burst and pressure game was on display as he collected 21 touches, 8 inside 50s, 5 clearances, and laid 10 tackles in the Cats’ 63-point loss to Werribee.
Holmes has quickly become a key figure in Geelong's September hopes this season, posting career highs in nearly every major statistical category and critically locking down a spot in Geelong's already loaded midfield.
Geelong assistant coach James Kelly told the To the Final Bell podcast last week how important he's become to the Cats in 2022:
"We’ve missed him, we really have," he said.
"Someone with his athletic ability... he’s a smart kid and he learns things super quick. The improvement in him this year is a credit to him, he works hard.
"I think people will really enjoy Holmesy for a long time."
Big man Esava Ratugolea was imposing in his return also, kicking a pair of goals and his contested marking around the ground was a feature. Jack Henry was also a welcome sight for Cats fans who braved the wintery conditions, picking up 16 disposals and taking six marks in his first taste of action since Round 5.
Geelong takes on the red hot Tigers in a battle that will shape the top end of the ladder on Saturday afternoon at the MCG.