Geelong coach Chris Scott is confident that much-improved forward George Burbury will bounce back better than ever from the broken jaw suffered in their two-point win over Collingwood in the opening match of the AFL pre-season.
Burbury was taken to hospital after being accidentally kneed in the face by former Magpies skipper Nick Maxwell in the second quarter of the 0.16.8 (104) to 1.13.15 (102) victory by the Cats on Wednesday night.
Initial fears that the Tasmanian had lost several teeth in the sickening incident were allayed.
“The upside, if there is one for George, is that he was looking really good,” said Scott of the 21-year-old forward, who made his senior debut last year.
“We’re hopeful he’ll come back and I’m confident he will still play the same way and add something to our team.
“He’s a young man who has improved out of sight.
“Eighteen months ago he was the player who was furthest away from AFL football on our list and now going into this game he would have been very hard to push out of our best 22.
“It’s not as though it’s life or death in a football sense for him.
“We’ll just get him right and expect him to come right back into contention when he’s ready to play.”
Tom Hawkins kicked four goals for the Cats, who also got excellent returns from Corey Enright, Cam Guthrie, Josh Caddy and Mitch Duncan.
Two of Collingwood’s better players were playing their first game for the club – former Sydney ruck-forward Jesse White and ex-Greater Western Sydney onballer Taylor Adams.
“I thought Jesse played his role really well and clearly five goals is a good return,” said Pies coach Nathan Buckley.
“His running patterns were strong and some of his contests to halve some aerial balls when he was outnumbered to create opportunities for ground-level players was excellent.”
White looked to have won the game for Collingwood when he put them ahead with two-and-a-half minutes to play with his fifth goal of the night at Simonds Stadium, only for youngster Jordan Schroder to pop up at the other end a minute later and seal victory for the home team.
“Our performance was admirable,” said Buckley.
“We would like to have sung the song but we’ll take a lot of learning out of that last five minutes.
“We had some chances midway through the last quarter to seal it and we didn’t.”
Geelong now have a 16-day break before taking on Melbourne in Alice Springs.
Collingwood’s second match of the NAB Challenge is against Richmond in Wangaratta on February 22.