Geelong captain Joel Selwood admits Matthew Scarlett is irreplaceable, he’s not sure how a makeshift ruck set-up will fare and suspended stars Steve Johnson and James Kelly will be missed.
It all points to the Cats, coming off their poorest season in six years, being unusually vulnerable when Hawthorn try to break an extraordinary nine-match losing streak against them on Easter Monday.
But Selwood doesn’t see it that way.
Nor does he accept last year’s emphatic elimination final dumping by Fremantle signals the end of the glory era which delivered the Cats three flags in five years.
“I’m not so scared like some other people might be and if you’re a supporter I hope you’re not either,” Selwood told AAP.
“We’ve gone out and we’ve got players that we think are going to help us and make us better.”
Midfielder Josh Caddy (from Gold Coast), ruckman Hamish McIntosh (North Melbourne) and backman Jared Rivers (Melbourne) are the experienced recruits.
But McIntosh (knee) won’t face the Hawks because of injury.
Nor will fellow ruck options Dawson Simpson (back) or Nathan Vardy (groin), while Trent West (knee) is only a slim chance.
Ex-steeplechaser Mark Blicavs, on the Cats’ rookie list, has shown great pre-season promise in the ruck.
But Selwood says while the club are confident that can translate to a successful premiership season debut, they’re not certain.
“We don’t know,” he said.
“Everything that he’s done so far he’s surprised us and I think it will continue that way.”
Selwood says Rivers can’t hope to emulate retired champion Scarlett in defence.
But having coped with losing other key planks of their golden era in recent seasons – such as Gary Ablett, Brad Ottens, Cameron Mooney, Tom Harley, Cameron Ling and Darren Milburn – the Cats expect to adapt again.
“We bring guys in that will give us something different,” Selwood said.
“That’s what Jared will do.
“We don’t expect him to be Matthew Scarlett.”
Selwood’s confident Geelong can extend their streak against Hawthorn since the 2008 grand final loss to 10.
“It’s one that you always highlight, the Hawthorn game,” he said.
“We’re going to miss James Kelly and Steve Johnson in that game and probably go in with under-sized ruckmen.
“Hopefully Westy will be thereabouts, but if not we’ll take them on with whoever we’ve got.
“We’ve done it in the past and we look forward to doing that.”