After what felt like an eternity of an offseason (which doesn’t make sense given it was actually shorter), the AFL is back in just two short weeks.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says with his side’s AFL finals hopes effectively dashed, Thursday evening’s clash with Essendon at the Adelaide Oval will kick off a five-game block of experimentation.
The Hawks are 16th with just four wins from 12 games but showed positive signs in Saturday’s loss to ladder-leaders Port Adelaide, despite being severely understrength, and will look to kick on against the Bombers.
“Given our ladder position doesn’t allow us to make finals now, there’s an opportunity to trial some things in the last four or five games of the season – some of that to do with personnel and some of that to do with method,” Clarkson said.
“So we’ll continue to do that and see where it helps us for next season and beyond.”
Clarkson said it was difficult to plan for next season until there was more clarity around list sizes, second-tier competitions and the AFL season structure and timing.
The Hawks are yet to settle on whether this season will be Shaun Burgoyne’s last.
The 37-year-old has played ten games this year, predominantly up forward.
“Part of it is seeing what Shaun wants to do and how his body is and how he finishes the season ,and part of it is to do with our list and what our future is too,” Clarkson said.
“So we’ll sit down and work that out together but now’s not the time to be discussing it from our point of view, nor Shaun’s.
“He’s got five games to go of this season and then we’ll see where it all lands.
“… We’ve got a lot to achieve over the next five weeks in terms of what we want to do and where we want to go, and what that might look like for 2021 and beyond.
“We just need to use that five weeks as best we can to help us with all our decision making in that space.”