Cats warn rivals they only expect to get better

“We’re still trying to play consistent footy – I don’t think we’ve played a full four-quarter effort yet,” he said.

“I’m certainly not surprised. We’ve had a really tough start to the year, but we’ll just keep grinding and get more consistent and better as a club.”

Hawkins added they were yet to prove themselves as genuine premiership threats again.

“Our best football is certainly good enough to play well in finals and go deep,” he said. “But the challenge for us is to play consistently like that – we’ve only seen a small sample size.”

One of the features of Geelong’s barnstorming start has been their re-cast forward line.

While Hawkins remains the key forward, there have been significant changes around him. Gary Ablett has starred in the past fortnight as a permanent half-forward, while recruits Gary Rohan and Luke Dahlhaus also have impressed.

Hawkins noted it was easier for the forwards to fire when the midfielders and defenders were also in such solid form.

“Certainly, the personnel is different but, as a collective, as a team, we’re playing a lot better,” he said. “The way the mids are hunting the footy and pressing in after [it] allows our defenders to get up in the game when we win the footy and we can apply pressure because our defenders have really good starting positions.”

Hawkins said Rohan was relishing his move from Sydney and the benefits of a proper pre-season.

“I was really excited to get him and then [for him] to get through a pre- season,” he said.

“It just gives you a good opportunity to play well … he’s come in and been outstanding.

“He’s taken a lot of really nice pack marks, but some of his defensive work, that’s what we love most about his game.”

Meanwhile Essendon great Kevin Sheedy has urged the Bombers players to use the match to show their credentials.

“This is a great opportunity to see where Essendon are, against a top side,” Sheedy said. “That’s what our Bombers fans are looking for – have we come anywhere, are we going anywhere? Are we wasting our time?”

Sheedy could not resist a dig at the Cats, saying that not much should be read into their mauling of the Eagles.

“I don’t really count Geelong’s win [on Sunday], because West Coast didn’t turn up, it’s as simple as that,” he said.


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