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Cats' big Sav set to batter VFL defences

Buddy doubt, Power losing hope Nat Edwards with the latest news

GEELONG power forward Esava Ratugolea will be unleashed in the VFL on Saturday as he mounts his case for an AFL finals comeback.

On the same day the senior side meets Gold Coast to try to book its berth in September, Ratugolea will play for the first time in 13 weeks against Box Hill.

The 20-year-old has trained fully during recent sessions and has been given the green light to return after a cautious recovery from his broken ankle suffered in round 10.

"It's really exciting. He's moved really well on the track. All the signs are really positive that he's ready to go," coach Chris Scott said on Thursday.

"We're absolutely leaving the door open for Esava, (but) there's a lot of work to be done.

"We don't want to put too much pressure on him in his first game back, but we'll keep an open mind as to how he performs.

"Then (we'll) make a more informed judgment on whether we think it's plausible that he could come into our senior team if we're good enough."

 

Ratugolea will get another opportunity to impress in the VFL qualifying final the following weekend while the AFL team enjoys the pre-finals bye, should it win through.

Despite not having played the minimum six matches required for VFL finals selection, Ratugolea will be eligible having not played in the AFL since the July 1 cut-off.

The second-year big man could also be called on to play in the ruck in the first week of AFL finals, with Rhys Stanley a long shot to return in time from his calf complaint.

Incumbent ruckman Ryan Abbott looks set to retain his place against the Suns this weekend, with Zac Smith providing "competitive tension" through strong form in the VFL.

Fellow big man Wylie Buzza has been ruled out for the rest of the season, going under the knife on Thursday for surgery on the foot he injured in the VFL last weekend.

Lincoln McCarthy, who hasn't featured at any level since injuring his hamstring against Richmond in round 13, is a chance to face Box Hill on Saturday.

Defender Jed Bews, who has missed the past fortnight with a shoulder injury, trained with the main group on Thursday and will be given every chance to face the Suns.

Scott hinted there would be no wholesale changes from the side that beat Fremantle by 133 points last weekend, however Smith, Quinton Narkle, Lachie Fogarty and untried midfielder Charlie Constable remain in the frame.