Recalled big man Ryan Schoenmakers looms as Hawthorn’s get out of jail free card on Saturday night against North Melbourne.
The Hawks will miss key defenders Brian Lake, James Frawley and Matthew Spangher for the clash with the Kangaroos.
Enter Schoenmakers, who as Hawthorn’s fifth key defender speaks volumes for their depth.
Against a tall Kangaroos attack boasting Drew Petrie, Jarrad Waite and Ben Brown, the South Australian will be sorely needed.
At 195 centimetres and 94 kilograms, the imposing 24-year-old was reportedly up for grabs in last season’s trade period, with a number of interested suitors.
But Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said he was delighted both club and player decided his future was at Waverley.
Clarkson said he’s been eager to include the giant for a number of weeks.
“Schoey’s been pretty stiff because he’s been in pretty good form for us,” he said.
“With Lake’s injury he gets his chance tomorrow and hopefully he goes really well.”
Despite his potential departure last summer and limited opportunities, Clarkson said he remained a part of the club’s future.
“He’s a big part of the fabric of this footy club,” he said.
“He knows he’s at a good club that’s right in the middle of a period of success and he wants to be part of it.
“We were delighted that he stayed because it means he’s confident in his system, confident in himself that he’s going to be able to contribute when the chance comes.”
Big men aren’t Clarkson’s only worry, with small forward Paul Puopolo under an injury cloud.
Puopolo was named by Clarkson but didn’t train with the group on Thursday owing to a “corky right at the front of his thigh”.
Clarkson said he was “touch and go”, suggesting Brendan Whitecross could be a potential replacement.
Brad Scott’s side will again miss Daniel Wells but Jamie Macmillan returns to the side after an achilles problem.
The two premiership contenders sit 2-2 in the win-loss, meaning both sides could find themselves behind the ledger by Sunday.
“The ladder’s pretty tight,” Clarkson said.
“From that point of view, the game’s going to be on because there’s a lot at stake.”