Tom Hawkins after the round eight match between Melbourne and Geelong at the MCG, May 4, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

GEELONG coach Chris Scott has backed Tom Hawkins despite the champion goalkicker's lean recent patch of form, saying the 35-year-old spearhead is not yet due to be rested.

Saturday night against Melbourne marked the first time Hawkins has had a goalless four-game run in his 354-game career, failing to kick a major against the Western Bulldogs, Brisbane, Carlton and the Demons (he was a late withdrawal and managed against the Roos).

DEMONS v CATS Full match coverage and stats

"He'll come out [for a rest] at some point, but at the risk of sounding defensive, I'm not sure how many goals 'Hawk' has kicked in his career – I don't really follow those numbers," Scott said.

"What I'm certain of is he's given away a whole lot more than any other key forward in the history of the game. To measure his influence on our team by goals alone, I think it's a sexy stat, now he's already come out of a game (North Melbourne) in that month as well, so that number is a bit inflated.


"The last couple of weeks, we played well enough without 'Hawk' dominating on the scoreboard. What would we have in a perfect world? I think in a perfect world, we'd have four, five or six guys down there that are real threats. Over the years, over the decade or two, we've maybe been too conscious of Hawkins and he's a victim of what he's done in the past.

"The Brisbane game up at the Gabba, it literally rained all game, so it wasn't a game for key forwards. My suggestion would be you've watched him at the peak of his powers, and now the observation is he's not quite what he was. But when he kicked a couple of bags of four (against Adelaide and Hawthorn) earlier in the year, he looked more like himself, to me.

Ryan Lester and Tom Hawkins during the round nine match between Brisbane and Geelong at The Gabba, April 20, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"Maybe a little bit off, but it's not a physical thing. But we've been clear we'll manage him throughout the year."

The Cats dropped their first game of the season to Melbourne, losing by eight points in a tough and torrid match.

"I thought we were off, early on. The real positive we take from the game is we were off, and we gave ourselves a chance to win," Scott said.


"It was obviously a slippery game, the dew was in really early, and that sort of changed the way the game was played from a normal, dry weather game. I thought our guys adapted as the game went on.

"Clearly, we handballed the ball too much, but bottom line, we had our chances to win the game. With a lot of guys off, I don't think there would be many guys who thought they had a really good day. We were pleased with the way they hung in there."

Scott said it was unlikely Tanner Bruhn had done any structural damage to his shoulder, his issue was a contact injury, and the sub was triggered early to get Gary Rohan into the game.


Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin was happy with the resolve of his players, the Demons' pressure overwhelming the normally smooth-moving Cats.

"It was a genuine arm-wrestle. It's what you expect when you play Geelong, you have two teams who are well-structured defensively and that's what the game becomes, especially with the conditions, it was a little bit slippery out there," Goodwin said.

"So it became a genuine arm-wrestle, and you had to take your opportunities when you got them. Clearly, there were times in the game where both teams didn't take their opportunities, and there were times when they took them.


"Really pleased defensively with how we played. They're a high-quality side, Geelong, in terms of how we moved the ball, but defensively, we were really sound."

Skipper Max Gawn copped a surprise knee to the head from a high-flying Rhys Stanley in a ruck contest, but played a crucial role in the fourth quarter, opening the term with a stunning bomb from 60m.

"Clearly, he's a warrior, Max. He's copped a lot of treatment, but you do worry when your captain's down, but it was great to see him get back up," Goodwin said.

"He had an enormous influence on the game in terms of what we wanted to achieve, not only around the ball, but in general play. He has unbelievable leadership and his captaincy is outstanding."