Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has left the door slightly ajar for hard-luck story Billy Hartung, who is clinging to hopes of a late call-up for the AFL grand final.
Hartung played 20 games this season, including both of his side’s finals wins, but was a surprise omission in the only change made by the Hawks.
Versatile tall Ryan Schoenmakers was expected to make way for Jack Gunston, who overcame an ankle injury to play, but he survived at the expense of Hartung.
However, the intrigue over the final line-up looks set to continue until 90 minutes before the first bounce, when official team sheets are lodged.
“You’ll have to wait and see,” Clarkson replied when asked about the possibility of a late change.
With this year’s premiership decider a possibility to be the hottest on record, Hawthorn’s onball brigade will have the limits of their endurance tested by the trying conditions.
Clarkson admitted he had wrestled with the decision to go with Schoenmakers over the extra runner in Hartung, but chose to stick with his preferred team strategy rather than try to second guess the weather.
“We felt like it was important to maintain the structure of our side and not respond or try to change our side just because we think it’s going to be hot,” he said.
“We’ve played in hot conditions in finals before, we’ve played in hot conditions in the pre-season, so it’s just something that you need to deal with.”
The move was a welcome change of luck for Schoenmakers who played in the Hawks’ losing 2012 grand final to Sydney but missed out on their past two premierships.
“This is the first time in his career he’s been able to play a role for us in the front end of the ground and we feel like, over the course of the year, he’s played that (role) reasonably consistently for us,” Clarkson said.
“We liked the work he did in last week’s game, particularly, against Fremantle and thought for the structure of our side, the contribution that he can make and the role he can play, that he was a good addition to our side.”