The third part of the six-part series comprises the five players that the Geelong Cats, Gold Coast Suns and Greater Western Sydney Giants could least afford to lose in season 2021 plus an honourable mention.
A sore throat led to Geelong star Tom Hawkins being tested for COVID-19 early this week and the result has come back negative.
Geelong star Tom Hawkins will play in the AFL grand final on Saturday night after testing negative to COVID-19.
The Coleman Medal winner was told to isolate himself away from Cats players earlier this week after feeling unwell.
Hawkins had a sore throat, believed to have been passed on by one of his children, and every precaution was taken by the club in line with AFL protocols.
AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Wednesday revealed Hawkins had been tested for the coronavirus and the result had come back “100 per cent” negative.
McLachlan admitted the initial news of Hawkins’ illness gave him a scare just a few days out from the season’s showpiece event.
“I clicked on a website and saw it was online in about half a second, I was like ‘Jesus,'” McLachlan told SEN.
“(My staff) were calming me down, saying he just had a sore throat, was sure it was from the kids, and he’d been tested.”
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 pulled out of a previously-arranged press conference on Monday with what the club said was a family commitment.
His media commitment was rescheduled for Thursday.
“I’m not too concerned. I think it might’ve been a bit overblown,” Cats superstar Patrick Dangerfield told reporters on Tuesday.
“We all trained in separate groups (on Tuesday) but our main session is (Wednesday) night and I’m sure he’ll be out there.”
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.