Hartung coping with grand final axing

The hard luck story of the AFL grand final, Hawthorn’s Billy Hartung, says his coach’s reassurance lessens the pain of missing selection.

Hartung, 20, was told by coach Alastair Clarkson on Thursday afternoon he wouldn’t be playing in Saturday’s season decider against West Coast at the MCG.

The young midfielder makes way with fit-again forward Jack Gunston coming back into the side and Ryan Schoenmakers playing in his first grand final in seven years with the Hawks.

Appearing at Friday’s grand final parade, Hartung admitted missing out on the showpiece match was tough but he said Clarkson told him there would be plenty to come in his AFL career.

“I’m only 20 years old … to be able to break into a premiership team and play most games, it’s something I can hang my hat on,” Hartung said.

“I’ve got to prepare as if I’m playing still.

“There’s still 24 hours to the game and you never know, a player gets sick or a player gets injured.”

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