Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge has pointed to attitude, rather than the venue, as their key to next Friday’s AFL preliminary final against Fremantle.
The Hawks’ qualifying final loss to West Coast means they must travel to Domain Stadium twice as they chase a third-straight premiership.
Fremantle will host them next week, with the winner into the grand final.
Soon after Hawthorn stayed in the flag hunt with a 74-point belting of Adelaide in Friday night’s semi-final, Hawks great Leigh Matthews put to Hodge that playing at Domain Stadium only a few days ago would serve them well.
The Subiaco ground has a long, thin shape than the MCG and pace is a key factor there.
Hodge replied “spot on” to Matthews, but then immediately referred to what went wrong in the West Coast loss.
“I still think the main thing last week was our attitude,” Hodge told the Seven Network.
“West Coast wanted it more, they worked harder, they hunted in contested ball a lot more than what we did and our ball movement was terrible.
“Going back there, I’m pretty confident we’re not going to produce that two out of three weeks.”
Hawthorn’s attitude improved dramatically for the win over Adelaide and Hodge led superbly from the front.
He was best afield with four goals.
It followed a bad fortnight where Hodge was caught drink driving and had a poor first half against the Eagles.
“It’s fair to say my last three weeks, I haven’t read too many papers or watched too many TV shows,” Hodge said.
“You understand when you have a bad game – you don’t need people telling you that.
“You’ve played footy long enough to realise that your next performance needs to be better.
“I’m just pleased that all the guys got rid of last week and put their best foot forward.”
Forward Luke Breust was another who redeemed himself on Friday night, kicking a career-best six goals.
He had been kept goal-less in the previous three games.
“He’s a proud bloke and his last four years, he’s very rarely played a bad game, let alone two or three in a row,” Hodge said.
“We’ve played with ‘Punky’ long enough that if you get the ball to him enough, he’s going to do some magic.”
Another player who starred on Friday night was defender Ben Stratton, who kept Eddie Betts scoreless.
Hodge said Stratton was their “go-to” backman when an opposition forward needed extra attention.
Hodge is also confident that forward Jack Gunston will return for the preliminary final after suffering a leg injury against West Coast.
“As I walked back in the room, ‘Gunners’ said ‘don’t get too comfortable’,” Hodge said of his extra time in attack against Adelaide.
“He said he’d be fit and raring to go next week, so it will be good to have him back.”