Hawks prepare for tough AFL selection

Having made it to the final match of the AFL season, Hawthorn must now confront the most difficult decision of grand final week: who to play and who not.

The return to fitness of leading goalkicker Jack Gunston could make coach Alastair Clarkson’s task of selecting a side for Saturday’s decider with West Coast a torturous one.

Does Ryan Schoenmakers, who played in their losing 2012 grand final but has missed since, deserve another crack at winning a medal?

Could a strong game in Sunday’s VFL grand final give Will Langford, the break-out star of the last year’s finals series, the edge over Billy Hartung?

And is Jonathon Ceglar destined to repeat his hard luck story of 2014, losing out to David Hale and Ben McEvoy for the two Hawks ruck roles?

Shaun Burgoyne – who has three grand final winner’s medals from five appearances with Port Adelaide and Hawthorn – predicts an arduous gathering at the selection table.

“Those match committee meetings go for two to three hours most weeks, they’ll probably push it out to four or five hours this week,” he said.

“I know last year there were some heartbreaks.

“We’ll just have to deal with that in four or five days, whenever the decision is made, we’ll deal with it then.”

Last year, Cyril Rioli overcame a hamstring injury to replace Jonathan Simpkin, who had played 18 games through the year.

Hawthorn legend Leigh Matthews told AFL Game Day he anticipated Gunston pushing himself to play, shuffling out Schoenmakers.

“There is a mind over matter that enables players to play with significant injuries,” he said.

“The unlucky one is Ryan Schoenmakers because he tends to be the extra player that comes in when Jack gets injured.”

Gunston’s return is not certain yet, having injured his ankle and knee in the qualifying loss to West Coast and needing to pass a fitness test.

Of those on the Hawthorn list without a winner’s medal, James Frawley looks the most certain to play on Saturday.

The former Melbourne swingman has played in 18 of 25 games with the Hawks this year, shuffled between attack and defence before settling down back in recent weeks.

He told the Sunday Footy Show he felt he belonged in defence and is likely to be given a job on one of the key Eagles forwards.

While forecasting tough selection calls, Burgoyne said one decision was likely to be a grand final crowd-pleaser.

The AFL has determined Hawthorn will wear brown and gold stripes on Saturday, ensuring the much-derided “power rangers” strip used for away days against West Coast won’t be seen.

“I think everyone’s happy we’re wearing our traditional strip, that’s what people want to see us running around in,” he said.

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