Lake boosts Hawks defence for AFL clash

Key defender Brian Lake is the diamond among three gems who return to Hawthorn’s side for the AFL grand final rematch against Sydney.

Lake and fellow premiership players Jordan Lewis and Isaac Smith will bolster the Hawks for Saturday night’s blockbuster at the MCG.

The backman has not played since injuring his knee in the Anzac Day win over Port Adelaide.

While Lewis and Smith are massive additions to their midfield, Clarkson focused on Lake when asked about the returning trio.

Lake will play a crucial role against Sydney’s star key forwards Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett.

“Particularly Lake being available, he’s a guy who can perhaps match it with the size of Tippett and Franklin in their front half,” Clarkson said.

“That’s obviously a formidable part of the Sydney game – their potency up forward.

“It’s timely with Lakey coming in, we now have three guys who can play on those types of players.

“So that’s handy for us.”

Hawthorn also desperately need Lake, recruit James Frawley and Josh Gibson to play together in defence.

Injuries mean the key defenders have not been in the same side since round two.

“They just need to build some chemistry … and that only comes with time,” he said.

“They give us a lot more flexibility in our back half – they’re all strong bodies and they’ve all played a lot of footy.

“We’re looking forward to them gelling together.”

One of the big themes this week has been the two teams downplaying the significance of the game.

But Hawthorn have not won two games in a row so far this season and the Swans have a point to prove after their first-half mauling in the grand final.

“Four points is four points,” Clarkson said.

“It’s not going to define our season if we lose, we just need to work harder in the latter part of the year to get our wins, to get ourselves into the top four like we always aim to do.

“But we’d like to think after some up-and-down form in the first seven rounds … that we get on a little bit of a roll and win some games on the trot.”

Hawthorn out-Sydneyed the Swans with their fierce aggression and pressure when the grand final was up for grabs.

Clarkson notes physical pressure remains the hallmark of the Swans’ game and what happened last September counts for little this time.

“Sydney came out really hard in the grand final too – make no mistake,” he said.

“The first 15 minutes of the game, it was a torrid affair and it was two goals each.

“So it was a very, very physical game – as every game is when you play against Sydney.

“If you step up and match them in that area, you’re going to find yourself wanting.

“We know it’s going to be a fierce contest from go to woe.”

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