Geelong General Manager – Football Simon Lloyd said the Cats are hoping for over 90,000 fans at the MCG next Friday night for the club’s first game of 2023 AFL season against the Magpies.
Joel Selwood and Steve Hocking will also lead a march from Federation Square from 5.30pm and the club could not be more excited for the season ahead, according to Lloyd.
“We've obviously gone through our season launch and it was fantastic to see our members during the week. For us it's a blank slate across the competition, there's a lot of work to be done and it's exciting. Pre-season is done and dusted, training is in-season mode and the coaches will have to pick a team over the course of the week.
“We cannot wait for next Friday night, 90,000 people at the MCG, hopefully even more.”
Geelong will face a selection dilemma come next week when the coaches do come together to select the team with so many strong performers across the pre-season, and All-Australian full forward Tom Hawkins still in the frame to take on Collingwood.
“Tom is completing most of main training and moving really well and freely, so again, that'll be something our coaching team, and Scotty and match committee will need to sit down and work through what that looks like,” Lloyd said. “But as we've said all along for all of our players, we’ll always have the longer term picture and the best interests of the player (front of mind).”
Wingman Sam Menegola has been ruled out after pulling up sore from the match simulation against Hawthorn.
“Sam, post the Hawthorn scratch match, where he obviously played well, pulled up a little bit sore post that game and on further investigation we saw a specialist and we made the decision for Sam to have surgical intervention on his knee.
“So, for Sam that will be a medium term prospect but the great news for Sam is that this time next week he'll start his cross training and he'll be on the bike and things will start to move pretty quick. Again, he put a good body or work in and that'll still hold him in good stead.”
Defender Jack Henry will miss the season opener while Jake Kolodjashnij will continue to be monitored.
“Obviously Jack Henry injured his foot a couple of weeks ago. He's now well over a week post-surgery. Jack will be non-weight bearing for the next fortnight, then his rehabilitation program will start. That will be a medium-term injury but Jack's in a great head space and as I've said, he's highly professional and he's really important to our team so hopefully that time will move quick,” he said. “And Jake Kolodjashnij is currently in the concussion protocols and as per any concussion we'll be guided by our medical team as to Jake's progress. He is on the improve but again we'll be guided by our medical team.”
Mitch Duncan, Toby Conway, and Shannon Neale are all continuing to work through their respective programs.
“Obviously it's been reported that Mitch jumped on a plane and, just for a change of scenery went to South Australia to continue his training program. He's been doing a big body of running work and getting some treatment from Steve Saunders in SA, who is one of our physios and sports scientists, so Mitch is in a great place and is tracking well,” Lloyd said.
“Shannon Neale who had an ankle injury is involved in main training at the moment and that'll increase over the next couple of weeks.”
“Toby Conway is now weight bearing, he had a stress reaction in his foot, and obviously he's a big boy and a ruckman and so he's doing a lot of strengthening work on that foot and he's progressing well.”