Just days after undergoing surgery to determine his cancer treatment, Hawthorn star Jarryd Roughead will be looking on from Alastair Clarkson’s coaching box as his teammates battle Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday night.
Roughead had a biopsy this week after a scan revealed the melanoma he had removed from his lip last year had returned and spread to other parts of his body.
But the 29-year-old was determined to make the trip to watch close friend Jordan Lewis play his 250th AFL game and flew out with the Hawks on Friday morning.
“He’s really keen to get up there to support his mate,” Clarkson said from Melbourne airport.
“We think it’s good for Rough too … normality for him is being around all his mates.
“He had a surgical procedure during the week and he’ll meet with specialists early next week to determine where he goes from there but it’s good for him to be around.
“He’s stable and healthy enough to be able to fly … all he wants to do is be around his mates and hopefully watch us have a win on Saturday night.”
Hawthorn, currently seventh on the ladder, will be looking to bounce back from a loss to Sydney, which came at the end of an emotional week following Roughead’s diagnosis.
Clarkson was pleased with the competitive edge of his side in difficult circumstances and backed his players to bring the same intensity when they visit the Gabba for the first time since 2008.
“We haven’t played there for such a long period of time, which must be some sort of record for the last time we played a team on their home deck,” the coach said.
“So we’re under no illusions that we’re going to need to play some pretty good footy.”
The Hawks made one change at selection with popular defender Matt Spangher in for his first game of the season at the expense of Kaiden Brand.
Lions coach Justin Leppitsch also made one change – Tom Cutler replaced Billy Evans – as he attempts to snap a five-game losing run and improve on 16th spot on the ladder.
“The big part with Hawthorn is they’re such good users of the ball, you have to defend well against them,” Leppitsch said.
“That’s been a focus for us, we have to make sure we do that and stifle their ball use. We know the talent of their forwards, particularly their small forwards.
“We can’t continually have our young backs held out to dry.”