Hawks keep three-peat on the down low

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson will keep talk of a premiership hat-trick to a minimum this week as the Hawks attempt to etch their name in AFL history.

Clarkson’s charges booked their spot in this year’s grand final with a 27-point win over Fremantle at Domain Stadium on Friday night.

If Hawthorn win the grand final next week, they’ll become the first team since Brisbane in 2001-03 to snare three flags in a row.

But Clarkson said it wouldn’t be the main talking point within the club this week.

“We didn’t really speak about going back-to-back last year until really late when we spoke to Jason Dunstall,” Clarkson said.

“He gave some advice to our playing group that was really significant at the time.

“To say (the hat-trick) won’t be mentioned is probably false, because at some point in time it will be.

“But grand finals are tough to win.

“We’re better off just focusing on the grand final in isolation, rather than legacies or anything to do with three-peats.”

Clarkson said forward Jack Gunston was a good chance to return from an ankle injury for the grand final.

Gunston hasn’t played since damaging his ankle in the qualifying final loss to West Coast a fortnight ago.

The 23-year-old will be put through his paces over the coming days before a final decision is made on his availability.

“We’d like to think he’ll be a big chance,” Clarkson said.

“But he’d need to progress pretty solidly over the next three or four days, and start doing some off line stuff to convince us he’s right to play.”

The Hawks were horribly outclassed by West Coast two weeks ago.

Clarkson accepted a large slice of blame for that thumping, saying the team’s preparation for the match – including things like tactics, player footwear, and mindset – were off the boil.

The three-time premiership coach said his team would be much better prepared if they happen to face the Eagles again in the grand final.

“But if we take a couple of shortcuts like we did in the preparation for West Coast, it will be really tough to win next week,” Clarkson said.

Hawthorn’s win over Fremantle was the first time they’d won an interstate final since beating Port Adelaide in a semi-final at Football Park in 2001.

Midfielder Sam Mitchell starred against the Dockers with 35 disposals, while Cyril Rioli’s two final-quarter goals proved crucial in the win after Fremantle had closed to within nine points.

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