This Saturday will mark 120 days since Cam Guthrie came off the ground in the Geelong’s 93 point, Round 6 demolition of the Swans in the Grand Final rematch back in April.
The toe injury that forced him off that Autumn night was initially hoped to have been a short-term hiccup but would eventually end on the surgeon’s table by June.
However, on Friday, Guthrie was named in the Cats’ VFL team to take on GWS at GMHBA Stadium on the weekend in the final match of the 2023 VFL season.
Geelong coach Chris Scott said the Cats’ match committee ‘thought long and hard’ about bringing the 230 game premiership player straight back into the AFL side for Saturday night’s must-win clash with St.Kilda.
“My gut feel is that he could come in and play against the Saints and perform really well,” Scott told media on Friday.
“We just couldn't be sure that it was going to be a better scenario for him and us than getting some game time in the VFL and all going well coming back next week with our season still alive.”
Guthrie’s absence may have given the next generation of Geelong midfielders a chance to get some crucial reps under their belts, but there is no doubt that the dynamic Guthrie will be a premium addition to the centre square if he does return to AFL level next Saturday night against the Bulldogs.
The numbers speak for themselves. In 2022, Guthrie was 2nd at the club for clearances, 1st for contested possessions, 1st for effective disposals, and 2nd for tackles, and that’s just a snapshot of the 30 year old’s importance to the Geelong engine room.
Add in 1st for disposals and 2nd for pressure acts, and out of all the games missed to injury this season across the list, perhaps no absence has been felt more keenly than Guthrie’s.
Referring to young tall Shannon Neale last week, Chris Scott said while it had been a frustrating year for him (injury-wise), "You can have a frustrating year and come in and have a few big moments at the end and it makes up for all of it".
With the Geelong's season still currently alive, Cats fans will be hoping that the number 29 will get his chance to do just that before the siren sounds for the final time in 2023.