Tom Stewart after suffering an injury in Geelong's loss to Collingwood in R1, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

GEELONG is set to be tested down back early in its premiership defence after scans confirmed star key defender Tom Stewart has sustained a grade two MCL strain following an incident last Friday night.  

The four-time All-Australian was substituted out of the 22-point loss to Collingwood at quarter-time after slipping on the recently laid turf at the MCG.

Stewart has been ruled out of Thursday night's blockbuster against Carlton at the MCG and is expected to miss up to a month.


Young gun Sam De Koning has been cleared of damage to his knee after a nasty incident in round one where he departed the game in the second quarter after his knee buckled beneath him while he ran backwards. 

De Koning returned after half-time with strapping on his knee but was clearly hampered, with Chris Scott revealing in his post-game press conference that the defender had suffered a similar incident in training a few weeks earlier.

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The 22-year-old is expected to face the Blues in round two in a big boost against a side containing the past two Coleman Medallists in Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay. 

While Tom Hawkins beat the clock to return in time for round one, the Cats are short of options behind the ball in the early stages of the season. 

Tom Hawkins (right) and Isaac Smith celebrate a goal in Geelong's round one match against Collingwood at the MCG on March 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Premiership pair Jack Henry and Jake Kolodjashnij missed last Friday night, along with midfield trio Mitch Duncan, Jack Bowes and Sam Menegola

After spending the pre-season training as a forward, Henry injured his troublesome foot against Hawthorn in a practice match at the end of February and is set to miss most of the first half of the season after undergoing another bout of foot surgery.

Kolodjashnij wasn’t available for round one after suffering a concussion against Brisbane in a practice match on March 2 and is yet to be cleared to return.

Scott might need to use All-Australian Mark Blicavs in a defensive role against the Blues after he played a variety of roles against Collingwood in round one.

Mark Blicavs competes in the ruck against Darcy Cameron during Geelong's round one match against Collingwood at the MCG on March 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

While Geelong ended its 16-game winning streak to start 2023, the Cats found someone who could play a key role this year after managing only four appearances last season. 

Esava Ratugolea was in demand in October. Port Adelaide tried its hardest to drag him across the border, while St Kilda was another club that expressed interest in the opportunity-starved Cat. 

But with Ratugolea contracted for 2023 at GMHBA Stadium, the Cats wouldn't entertain a trade and have been instantly justified in that decision.


The 24-year-old nullified big name Collingwood recruit Dan McStay, producing a handful of spectacular intercept marks and thumping spoils, and Scott was effusive with his praise in his post-game press conference. 

Ratugolea has played better games at AFL level, but his 60th game might have changed the trajectory of a career that stalled in 2022.