GEELONG spearhead Tom Hawkins says his brief isolation period with a minor health scare has actually worked in his favour as he enters Saturday night’s grand final against Richmond feeling refreshed.
Hawkins was forced to stay away from his teammates early this week after contracting a sore throat – an ailment believed to have been passed on by one of his children – and took a precautionary COVID-19 test in line with AFL protocols.
It came back negative on Tuesday and the Coleman medallist further allayed fears over his health by taking part in Wednesday night’s main training session.
“It’s the sort of year and environment that we’re in that if anyone finds themselves at any stage a little bit under the weather you take precautionary measures and isolate away from the group,” Hawkins told reporters on Thursday.
“It was a bit of a rough start to the week and one I would have preferred to spend with my teammates, but I’m feeling really good.”
Hawkins’ young family is staying with him at Royal Pines on the Gold Coast, where a small group of Geelong players with families are based.
The majority of the Cats’ travelling party is based a few kilometres away at the hotel adjacent to their Southport Sharks training ground.
Hawkins said it was sheer bad luck that he felt ill in grand final week, having felt fine throughout the previous three months of hub life.
He said the experience had not adversely affected his preparation for the grand final.
“I’ve got a couple more sessions that I’ll be able to be involved in later in the week,” Hawkins said.
“I’ve basically trained all year and haven’t missed any sessions, so it will do me the world of good just to freshen up. I honestly feel great.”
Hawkins played in Geelong’s 2009 and 2011 premierships, but featured in three losing preliminary finals before getting back to the biggest stage this year.
He was out suspended when the Cats lost a preliminary final to Richmond last year.
The 32-year-old said a flag this season would mean even more to him as a senior player nearing the end of his decorated career.
“Ultimately you get towards the back end of your career and you get into your 30s and you start to realise that you don’t get the opportunity to play in grand finals very often,” Hawkins said.
“In my first five years the club played in four grand finals, so it was somewhat of a routine to start holidays in the first week of October, but that hasn’t been the case for a long time.
“I cherish the opportunity and position that I’m in and hopefully we can execute and be on the right side of the ledger come Saturday.”
Hawkins leads the competition with 48 goals from 20 games this season and is crucial to the Cats’ chances of toppling Richmond at the Gabba.
(C) AAP 2020