AFL 1 year ago

Hurting Hawks to hit back hard: Clarkson

  • Hurting Hawks to hit back hard: Clarkson

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 30: Hawthorn Hawks head coach Alastair Clarkson (L) and Luke Hodge to speak to the media during an AFL Finals media opportunity at Fox Studios on August 30, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Grumpy? Filthy? Hurting? Alastair Clarkson doesn't care what the Hawks are called but he expects their actions to speak loudly against the Western Bulldogs.

A lot has been said about the mindset of Hawthorn's players following their last-gasp AFL qualifying-final loss to Geelong and a prickly Clarkson wasn't keen to buy into the conversation when he spoke on Thursday morning to reporters.

The four-time premiership coach was at his bristling best at his regular media conference, held before a 45-minute training session at the club's Waverley headquarters.

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With his September game face firmly in place, it was doubtful Clarkson would have conceded the grass he stood on was green if asked, but one thing was abundantly clear - the Hawks are primed to hit Friday night's sudden-death semi-final at full tilt.

After last year's slip-up against West Coast in the first week of the finals, Hawthorn took their frustrations out on Adelaide and Clarkson is expecting a similarly fierce response when they face the Dogs on Friday night at the MCG .

"I haven't known a premiership outfit or a high-quality finals performer in the last 80 years (to) be soft at the footy," Clarkson said.

"So every coach and player in the competition wants to play that way knowing full well that you won't win finals unless you are that way.

"I looked at the Bulldogs last week and they were more ferocious at the contest than West Coast; I look at GWS and they were more ferocious than what Sydney were.

"The reason our game was so close was because the ferocity at the contest was pretty evenly matched by both sides. If we get the better of the Dogs in that regard, then we'll probably win the game but if it's vice versa ... it's pretty simple really."

Clarkson made two changes to the side who fell to a two-point loss against the Cats, regaining forward James Sicily from illness and recalling midfielder Billy Hartung.

Ryan Burton was ruled out with a calf injury, while Daniel Howe - a late inclusion against Geelong - was omitted.

Hartung adds some speed to the Hawks' onball brigade, but Clarkson denies the slick Dogs have a clear edge on his team in that area.

"I'd reckon that we've got a little bit of leg speed on the outside too that perhaps we don't get too much credit for, but I don't mind that," he said.

"The game will be won or lost by the team that can get their hands on the ball most - if that's the Dogs, we're going to be in trouble but, if it's us, they're in trouble."

The Bulldogs made one forced change, bringing in Toby McLean for Lin Jong, who broke a collarbone in his side's elimination final win over West Coast.

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