PERTH, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 03: Sam Menegola of the Cats celebrates a goal during the 2021 AFL Second Semi Final match between the Geelong Cats and the GWS Giants at Optus Stadium on September 3, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Geelong head coach Chris Scott has announced that former Tiger and Crow Tyson Stengle will make his Cats debut this Saturday against the Bombers, whilst key senior players, highlighted by Mitch Duncan, will miss the opening clash.

Stengle played two games for Richmond in 2017 before requesting a trade to Adelaide in 2018. The 23-year old then played 14 games for the Crows across 2019 and 2020 before being delisted following a series of off-field offences.

The small forward was offered a lifeline by Geelong following an impressive season with SANFL side Woodville-West Torrens, and Scott has been impressed with Stengle during the pre-season and has earnt his spot in the round one side.

"The AFL usually does a great job of providing people with second chances and he hasn't put a foot wrong this pre-season," Scott said of Stengle on Wednesday.

"We didn't bring him in on a guarantee that he would be on our team, he had to train and play and perform into our 22 for round 1 and he's done that really well."

AFL Rd 18 - Adelaide v Richmond
ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 19: Tyson Stengle of the Crows competes with Bachar Houli of the Tigers during the round 18 AFL match between the Adelaide Crows and the Richmond Tigers at Adelaide Oval on September 19, 2020 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Amongst the big names to miss the opening clash is Duncan with his calf injury, who failed to prove his fitness despite training with the main group this week.

Scott however claimed that Duncan, as well as other key senior players, are not far off returning to the senior team.

"No we're going to hold Mitch back. That was a difficult decision for us because Mitch has been moving well the past couple of weeks but we're going to play the long game with a few of our really good players this week," Scott said.

"Mitch is part of a group that are all short term injuries that we expect to have back really soon that includes Mark O'Connor, Sam Menegola and Jed Bews."

Ruckman and new recruit from Hawthorn Jonathon Ceglar will also miss but also isn't far away from a return following a knee arthroscope, whilst forward Gary Rohan is yet to have a timetable on his return from a back complaint.

In positive news, the Cats head coach is excited of the progress of the more experienced players throughout the pre-season, including Jeremy Cameron, Tom Hawkins and Patrick Dangerfield.

"Our experienced players are in really good shape. It's a credit to our whole performance team in particular that they've got those guys raring to go, and have got all of us optimistic of what we can do this year," Scott said.

Of the senior players, Dangerfield is one that Scott is excited to see get back to his Brownlow form, suggesting he is in great shape and will play mainly in the engine room this season.

"I'm optimistic that he will have a better year than his past two years just because of his physical status," Scott claimed.

"We have played him more forward previously because of where he's been at with his body and we don't see that need as much this year as we have in the past."

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 13: Patrick Dangerfield of the Cats runs with the ball during the round 17 AFL match between the Geelong Cats and the St Kilda Saints at GMHBA Stadium on July 13, 2019 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

Scott also announced that Sam De Koning will be playing in defence on the weekend after playing only one game last season.

Other big inclusions to the side that Scott claimed in his press conference included defenders Jack Henry and Tom Stewart, as well as youngsters in Max Holmes, Zach Guthrie and Esava Ratugolea.

Henry had been under an injury cloud during the pre-season with a foot issue that required minor surgery, but Scott declared him fit to go this weekend, whilst small forward Gryan Miers is close to a return from an ankle injury.

Geelong will face Essendon at the MCG on Saturday, March 19.