FOUR Cats have successfully returned from injury as Geelong took on the Gold Coast in a reserves scratch match on Thursday afternoon.
Jordan Clark completed his rapid return from a dislocated shoulder, while Quinton Narkle proved his fitness and Josh Jenkins saw action for the first time since the Marsh Community Series.
Category B Rookie Blake Schlensog also re-joined the side after sitting out the club’s clash with Fremantle.
Clark’s return came three weeks to the day since he dislocated his shoulder against the Magpies.
“Obviously being in a full-time environment in the hub and having access to the physios and the docs every day and the strength and conditioning guys has been a big player in that,” Clark said post-match.
“Let’s just say I think I’ll be better for the run. At some points I just needed a good blowout and I got that out there today.
“It’s a short recovery and I’m thankful to be back out here and playing footy.”
The young Cats ran into an experienced Suns line-up, boasting names such as Peter Wright, Rory Thompson, Jack Hombsch, Zac Smith, Brayden Fiorini and Darcy MacPherson and were soundly beaten on the day.
The Suns loaned players from their extended list to the Cats to make up the full complement of players.
“We had eighteen on eighteen today and usually we've been playing with 12, 13 or 14 players. It was a bit more contested and I think a few boys will be better for the run,” Clark said.
“Credit to them (the Suns), they looked like they’ve been training really well and we just spoke about and addressed them that they were a bit more match ready than we were.”
Narkle played three quarters in the midfield in his return from a hamstring injury.
“Narks is a very skilful player and it’s great to have him back in the midfield as well,” Clark said.
“He loves winning the contested ball and loves winning a few clearances here and there.
“I spoke to him before and he felt the same way as I did, he had a little bit of a blow and felt at times it was hard to get into the game.”
Josh Jenkins kicked one goal on a tough day for forwards in his long-awaited return from a back injury.
“It was obviously great to have JJ out there – some experience for the young boys,” Clark says.
“He’s really good at setting the ground up, he’s come in and he knows what’s going on.
“It helps those young forwards out quite a lot and it’s just nice to have a big man to kick the ball to. I thought he was really solid today and it’s great to have him at the club.”
Nakia Cockatoo continued his run of successful hit-outs, kicking a goal and laying multiple heavy tackles to make his presence felt.
“Everyone knows what he’s capable of and he’s quite a big body to have around the contest and that’s what we expect from Cocky to lay some big tackles and really set the tone,” Clark said.
“That’s what he’s been starting to do in the last couple of weeks and he’s building nicely.”
Other Geelong players to catch Clark’s eye included some younger Cats.
“Francis Evans was really good from the young boys, Coop (Stephens) and Cam Taheny were really solid as well,” Clark says.
“I saw some big things out of big Sammy De Koning in the ruck, he doesn’t usually play in the ruck but he’s been able to go wherever the coach needs him.”