McEvoy relishing AFL opportunity

Given the extremes he has been through in AFL grand final week, Hawthorn ruckman Ben McEvoy will not waste a second ahead of Saturday.

Circumstances look a lot clearer for McEvoy now than during St Kilda’s two grand finals in 2010 and what happened at Hawthorn a year ago.

But he knows better than anyone to make the most of the occasion.

“Anything can happen, so I certainly appreciate every minute of what happens this week,” he told AAP.

“It’s a new circumstance for me – it’s my third time in this scenario, but it’s been different each time.”

Last year, McEvoy was out of the side from round 21, but replaced Jonathon Ceglar in the grand final team.

The premiership was a dream come true after his surprise trade from St Kilda at the end of the 2013 season.

McEvoy was also dropped for St Kilda’s 2010 grand final draw against Collingwood and then recalled for the replay.

He should be in the team for Saturday’s grand final against West Coast and is preparing along those lines.

McEvoy has played every game since round 15.

“I’m going into a grand final week with a little more clarity on what’s going on,” McEvoy said.

“Hopefully, all going well this week, I get another chance at the big dance.

“In my mind, I’m playing – I’m preparing for a game.

“I’m not losing any sleep over that.”

McEvoy and David Hale have lost the hitout count in the last two finals against Adelaide’s Sam Jacobs and Fremantle giant Aaron Sandilands, but the pair certainly have not been disgraced.

Hawks onballer Sam Mitchell praised them after last Friday night’s preliminary final win for their work at stoppages.

“We’re aware that it doesn’t look great on the stat sheet, but we’ve known what we’ve had to do in the last couple of games to give ourselves the best chance,” McEvoy said.

“We’ve had a plan to make things as predictable for our ground-level guys.

“No doubt we’ll come up with another plan this week as to how exactly we want to go about it.

“But once you get into the game, you just have to ‘drive the car’ a bit, too.”

Their main opposition on Saturday will be Eagles star Nic Naitanui, who is a different proposition again.

“Nic Nat, he’s a very unique challenge as far as rucks are concerned,” McEvoy said.

“He’s an exceptional athlete – he’s so powerful, quick and agile.

“It’s a really big challenge, but he also has a fairly high workload, too … it’s a battle of attrition, the whole season is.”

McEvoy said the big lesson to come out of the qualifying final loss to West Coast was needing to be cleaner with their ball use.

“I don’t know if it was so much as our confidence taking a hit, as our pride,” he said.

“We didn’t show up to play the type of footy we wanted to, but at no point did our belief waver.”

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