Geelong has been urged to give Tom Hawkins a “mini pre-season” over the coming weeks after a sub-par start to the season.
The veteran forward endured an interrupted summer after last year’s premiership win as he underwent surgery on a persistent foot issue.
While the 34-year-old has been on the park over the first two rounds, his output has been well below his usual levels.
READ MORE: Ponga’s desperate move to save NRL career
READ MORE: Huge ‘honour’ unveiled for Dolphins-Broncos
READ MORE: Axe falls at McLaren after nightmare F1 start
READ MORE: Troubled star blindsided by club after allegations
Hawkins has managed just 12 kicks across his two games this season, kicking just three goals in the process. He kicked 67 goals and was named the All-Australian captain last year as the Cats won the premiership.
”If you were Chris Scott today, you saw how he moved and he had a limited preparation,” Kangaroos great David King asked on SEN Breakfast.
“We drop into this phase now where it’s play, recover, play, recover – it’s really hard to gain fitness in this phase.
“Would you take him out of football for the next few weeks and do a mini pre-season with him to get him up and going?
“This is their fixture – they’ve got the Suns, Hawthorn and West Coast the next three weeks.”
Hawthorn champion Dermott Brereton explained exactly which parts of Hawkins’ game have been lacking through the first two weeks of the season.
“He’s never going to be a problem at the boundary line throw-in at the forward 50 and he’s never going to be a problem going for a marking contest when the ball drops steeply,” he told AFL Nation.
“But when the ball comes in flat, that’s when you’ve got to get your timing right or on a lead.
“His timing to see the flow of the ball quickly coming towards him is all out at the moment.”
Geelong is no stranger to managing ageing stars through the home and away season, with Patrick Dangerfield spending an extended period out of the team last year to work on his fitness.
Dangerfield did not play rounds 11-15, but his return in round 16 coincided with a winning streak that extended all the way through to the grand final against Sydney.
Port Adelaide great Kane Cornes said he would “keep playing” Hawkins, adding he backed whichever method Geelong opted for.
“I just trust Geelong to do it better than anyone else … they’ve got a history of managing their squad better than anyone in the competition,” he said.
“I think you can get fit by playing, I’d keep him in there for the next two or three and see how it goes.
“But at some point, they will manage this group like they have in the past with (Patrick) Dangerfield, (Joel) Selwood and others.”
Geelong will look to arrest a two-game slide when it faces the Gold Coast Suns in round three.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!