THE first casualty following the return to contact training took just one session for Hawthorn, with midfield star Jaeger O’Meara suffering a facial fracture following a head knock on Monday.
With just 16 days before the Hawks Round 2 clash against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium, the clock is ticking on O’Meara’s availability for the rare clash between the two teams at the Cattery.
“He’ll be out of contact for a couple of weeks, but I think he’s still a chance for Round 2 so we’ll have to play it by ear and see how he goes over the next few weeks,” midfielder Liam Shiels said via zoom on Tuesday morning.
Cats defender Tom Stewart joked on Tuesday that the Hawks might not know how to find their way down the highway, as Hawthorn’s return to Geelong will mark the first time the club has played at the venue since Round 3, 2006 – three years prior to Shiels making his AFL debut.
“We’re pretty excited actually to get down to Geelong,” he said.
“I think we’re just excited to playing footy again. Us and Geelong always have close games; we’ve got a good rivalry there,” Shiels said.
“I’ve been down there for an Eastern Rangers game in the TAC Cup and I think I played a Box Hill practice game down there a few years ago.”
The clash has made headlines in footy circles since the fixture was released on Monday, though, the Hawks midfielder denies the unfamiliar dimensions of GMHBA stadium will have any impact on the result come June 12.
“(It’s) a fair bit skinnier than the MCG and a few other grounds in the competition, but I honestly don’t think that has a massive impact on the game.
“We are just excited to get down there. No matter who we are playing or where we are playing, we are just happy to be playing footy again.”
The Hawks head into Round 2 with four points on the board, having dispatched the Brisbane Lions by 28 points at the MCG on March 22.
O’Meara’s setback aside, the 29-year-old believes the Hawks will be in good shape come first bounce.
“We had a pretty good training block with the time we had off,” he said.
“I know we were only able to train in pairs, but we were able to get some good k’s in the legs there so we’ve kind of gone straight back into it.
“Twice a week now we are able to do contact, so I think that’s probably the main thing that we need to focus on heading into Round 2. Just getting that physicality back because we haven’t been able to train that.
“I think the feeling among the group is just excitement; (it) probably is across the whole competition.
“Just the excitement to be back out on the ground doing what we love and playing footy again.”