Simpson says Hawks will be ready
Midfield tactics, not history lessons, are foremost in Adam Simpson’s mind as Hawthorn prepare for the AFL preliminary final against Adelaide.
Hawthorn will start strong favourites against the Crows in Saturday’s twilight clash at the MCG and Simpson is confident they have the right mindset after a week off.
Long before last year’s three-point preliminary final loss to Collingwood, the Hawks assistant coach learnt stark lessons about the last fortnight of the AFL season.
“We haven’t spoken about it at all – I don’t think it is (necessary),” Simpson said on Tuesday.
“The maturity of our group is at a level where to draw inspiration from what happened last year … we don’t need to do that.”
Simpson was a key player in the powerful North Melbourne side that kicked themselves out of the 1998 grand final against Adelaide.
A year later, they were on the other side of the coin when raging premiership favourites Essendon botched their preliminary final against Carlton.
North were then too good for the Blues in the grand final.
“One thing is for certain – you don’t make a prelim by luck,” Simpson said.
“You can’t say you have nothing to lose, there’s everything to lose.
“There are no guarantees in footy.”
As Hawthorn’s stoppage coach, Simpson is spending a lot of time this week preparing for an Adelaide midfield including All Australian Crows onballers Patrick Dangerfield and Scott Thompson.
Simpson also praised Adelaide ruckman Sam Jacobs, who made the initial All-Australian squad.
“I notice none of our mids made it in, so they have the edge there in terms of their personnel – and their rucks,” Simpson said.
“Jacobs has had an outstanding year.
“They’re No.1 for clearances and No.1 for contested ball, so they’re the indicators we look at for finals footy.
“I reckon they stand out pretty well, so it’s going to be a bit of a battle.”
Another crucial player for Hawthorn will be in-form defender Josh Gibson, who was best afield in the qualifying final win over Collingwood.
He and Simpson were together at North Melbourne before the Hawks recruited Gibson three years ago.
“It was good scouting from Hawthorn’s point of view, because I knew that at North when I was there, that he was such a competitive beast,” Simpson said.
“He loves playing on the big dogs.
“I knew what they were getting and I think they’re pretty happy with how he’s performed over the last three years.
“One thing Gibbo likes is the big stage – everywhere.”© AAP 2013