One of the advantages of a round without spectators… you can hear the players!
Hawthorn have dismissed fears of a form slump for star forward Lance Franklin ahead of Saturday night’s AFL grand final rematch against Sydney.
The Swans sustained a major injury blow on the eve of the match, with ruckman Shane Mumford (groin soreness) failing to make the flight to Melbourne.
The Hawks have their own concerns, with Franklin having gone goalless in the past two rounds.
But coach Alastair Clarkson says he’s comfortable with the two-time Coleman Medallist’s form.
And he says the Hawks won’t be affected at the MCG on Saturday night by any mental scars from last year’s grand final loss.
“We probably do all our sooking about that game in the two weeks after it and then move on,” Clarkson said.
“After being a bit disappointed for a couple of weeks for not getting the chocolates last year, it’s move on and work out our campaign for 2013 and how we can give ourselves a chance this year.”
He said players would be determined to win because of the game’s blockbuster status not to atone.
“These are big games of footy so whether we play Geelong or Collingwood or Sydney Swans or West Coast – sides which are genuine finals contenders – our guys have got a really burning desire to compete,” said Clarkson.
“That’s what they love to do. Is there anything more fuelled by a grand final loss?
“It’s for the players to answer moreso than me but, from what I can gather, they are just treating it as another game.”
The Hawks have made six personnel changes from their grand final team.
Sydney’s selected 22 had four missing names from their premiership side, but Mumford will join that list, with the Swans saying on their website the big man pulled up sore after Thursday’s training session.
Clarkson said tactical changes would be another difference.
“You’ve got a whole summer and what usually happens in a whole summer of us weirdos as coaches getting together is – there’s 10 at each club and they come up with all sorts of concoctions of how we can go about it differently,” he said.
“So a fair amount changes in the space of six games of home and away let alone a whole summer of coaches getting together and working out how we can do things better.
“A fair bit’s changed since the grand final.”
He laughed off doubts over Franklin, who is a post-season free agency target for several other clubs.
“I’m not worried. He’s been a great contributor for us for a long period of time,” Clarkson said.
“He’ll get his mojo at some point in time.”
Clarkson said Franklin shouldn’t be judged just on goals.
“He still had 17 touches and a heap of defensive acts on our behalf and we didn’t rate his game (against Adelaide) last week particularly poorly at all,” he said.
“He’s still had seven or eight shots on goal in the last couple of weeks.
“I reckon if you ask most forwards in the competition whether they could get those sort of opportunities in front of goal, they’d be pretty happy.”