Finley export and star Geelong forward Tom Hawkins believes the future is bright for Cobram product Esava Ratugolea.
That was the message from the gun forward when he spoke to reporters last week in the lead-up to Thursday night's win over Brisbane.
Ratugolea has showcased his sublime talents with contested pack marks, however he is yet to impact the scoreboard in the modified season.
Hawkins said his 21-year-old teammate still had time to develop into a power forward.
“I've really enjoyed playing with him throughout his short career,” he said.
“He's got a lot of potential, he's still quite raw.
“I've said publicly before that I love the fact he wants to be a great player.
“He does get a little bit frustrated with himself, but I know he is going to get there, it just takes a little time with key position players.”
And don't expect Hawkins to retire any time soon.
Hawkins, who has played more than 250 games and booted 550 goals with the Cats, made it crystal clear there are no plans to retire.
The 31-year-old brushed aside any speculation that this year could be his last, believing he has plenty of games left in the tank.
“What I do want to make crystal clear is that I do believe I’ve still got a lot of football left in me,” Hawkins said.
“I turn 32 at the end of the month, so in football terms I’m getting towards the back end. But I do still think that I’ve got a lot of football left in me.
“There’s no plans to retire at the end of the year or end of 2021 ... I’m optimistic of how long I can play.
“As long as I’m still playing my role in the team and I still feel physically good and mentally good I’ll keep playing and putting my hand up to play.
“I’m not retiring at the end of the year.”
● Katamatite's Tom Clurey sits clear atop the AFL table with his Port Adelaide teammates after another win at the weekend.
The key defender had 10 touches — all kicks — and four marks as the Power defeated Greater Western Sydney to move a win ahead of the pack in first spot on the ladder.