Scott: Hawkins suspension will 'galvanise' Cats
Chris Scott has conceded Geelong has no obvious replacement for suspended forward Tom Hawkins as the Cats weigh up how to manufacture a winning score without their spearhead.
The Cats will be without their seven-time leading goal kicker after the tribunal on Monday ruled his round-arm strike to Will Schofield's head on Friday night was intentional.
The Cats will likely consider swinging veteran defender Harry Taylor or superstar midfielder Patrick Dangerfield forward to fill the huge void in attack.
Hawkins, 31, was adamant the contact was accidental or at worst careless as part of a bid to try and shrug off the defender and lead into open space in the semi-final.
But AFL legal counsel Nick Pane QC pointed out Hawkins had a clenched fist and used a straight-arm in a manner consistent with a deliberate round-house right arm swing.
The tribunal panel, which consisted of chairman David Jones, Richard Loveridge, Shane Wakelin and Paul Williams, took less than seven minutes to decide the All-Australian's one-match ban would stand.
Hawkins' appeal was always considered a long shot, as the blow which felled Schofield in the third term was delivered more than 50m away from where the ball was in dispute on the wing.
The dual premiership full-forward said he was disappointed to miss the chance to help book the Cats their first grand final berth since the 2011 premiership.
"I'm really disappointed that I'm not going to be out there with my teammates on Friday night," Hawkins said.
"However my job now turns to supporting them as best as I can, and lend a hand where I can, and prepare myself to play next week (in the grand final)."
Scott said Hawkins' absence was a huge blow, but added Geelong had put contingencies in place in case he was rubbed out.
"By taking the approach that we should support him, because no one is more devastated than Tom, doesn't mean that you are pretending that he hasn't got a bit of an issue with this swinging arm stuff," he said on Fox Footy.
"I know him well enough to know that's not, he's not the type of guy to go out and say, 'If I get half a chance I am going to belt this bloke today'."
The one-game suspension increases Hawkins' rap sheet, with the gun goal kicker suspended for six matches for striking over his decorated career.
The West Coast medical report stated that Schofield reported "moderate pain" in his temple region after the match but did not require treatment.
He remained on the ground for about 30 seconds after the blow, with Hawkins checking on him immediately, and then again straight after final match.
Hawkins said the contact was part of an attempt to break away from Schofield's hold on him inside the 50m arc.
"The only way I felt like I could get away - other than turn my back on play - was to pull my arm out, as forcefully as I could, to try and stop him from holding me," Hawkins said.
"My intention was to get back behind him."
But Pane said the clenched fist was a sign the strike was a deliberate one.
"The player clearly has a clenched fist in the back swing of the strike," Pane said.
"There is a forceful swinging motion consistent with an intentional strike.
"The time the swinging motion begins, Mr Schofield is already going low, and the player's (Hawkins') arm is swinging high to the head and shoulder region."
Scott said the Cats had already narrowed their options down to 1-2 players who would be in contention to replace Hawkins.
"It's so hard to get an opportunity like the one we have got this Friday night," he said.
"To go in without one of your best players against the premiership favourite makes it that much harder. Everyone's disappointed, but not more disappointed than him.
"We all make mistakes across the season. He's paying a far bigger price than most.
"I think if anything, the overwhelming sense of his teammates will be, we have got to get it done this Friday night to give him a chance to play next week. I think that can be as galvanising as anything."