Hawks coach wants to end O’Meara hysteria

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is confident the benefits of Jaeger O’Meara’s late-season AFL return outweigh the risks.

O’Meara has recovered from the knee injury that ruined his first season with the Hawks and will play his first AFL game since round six against Carlton at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

The club has taken an ultra-conservative approach to O’Meara’s recovery from his latest knee injury after related issues saw him miss the last two seasons with former club Gold Coast.

An even safer course of action would have been to put their injury-prone star in cotton wool for the season rather than risking him in two games when finals aren’t a realistic consideration.

But Clarkson told reporters it was important for O’Meara’s confidence that he plays at AFL level before the end of the season.

“There’s been that much hysteria created around Jaeger for the whole of the year that I think it’s good for him and for us, and for the football community, to actually see him out there playing,” Clarkson said.

“We don’t want to put him out there just for the sake of it, but we think it’s valuable for everyone to have a look at him and say ‘Yep, we think he’s right to go’.

“Then that (hysteria) can ease off over the summer, you’d hope, and we can just go into next year with a little bit of blue sky in regards to the Jaeger O’Meara stories.”

The 12th-placed Hawks are still a mathematical chance to make the finals.

They must beat the Blues then the Western Bulldogs in round 23 and hope a series of results go their way, but Clarkson dismissed suggestions a shock finals berth remained a goal for his side.

“We haven’t had a focus on finals since we got to 0-4 really … we then started to channel our energies into the next time we can win a piece of silverware,” the coach said.

“We could mix ourselves around in the bottom part of the eight but we’re not going to significantly challenge.

“If we happen to mysteriously get there in the next couple of weeks, fantastic, but our goal all along has been building a process and a group of personnel … that can help us win our next piece of silverware.”

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