Hawks put pair through AFL paces

Hawthorn have put captain Luke Hodge and forward Jack Gunston through their own training sessions as they try to prove their fitness for the AFL grand final.

While it will be a shock if Hodge is ruled out, Gunston is yet to prove his fitness ahead of Saturday’s MCG clash with West Coast.

Gunston has not played since suffering an ankle injury in the last quarter of the qualifying-final loss to West Coast.

Hodge hurt his right hamstring in the final term of last Friday night’s preliminary final win over Fremantle.

The pair did not join the main group during Tuesday training.

They were seen at Waverley Park on Wednesday morning, with Hodge doing some run drills with fitness coach Andrew Russell.

Coach Alastair Clarkson supervised Gunston as he had some goalkicking practice.

It will come down to Thursday’s open training session, also at Waverley Park, which will attract a large crowd.

“They’re both really good chances to play,” Hawks chief executive Stuart Fox told SEN radio.

“But time will tell – the main session tomorrow, they’ll have a vigorous run – they’ll be tested.”

If Gunston proves his fitness, Ryan Schoenmakers might have to make way for him despite some strong form.

“The decision hasn’t been made, obviously, and he’s every chance to play,” Fox said of Schoenmakers.

“He’s put together some really good games and I hope he does play.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Hawthorn president Andrew Newbold raised eyebrows by saying he would not be upset if the Eagles won the flag.

“I shouldn’t probably say this but I’d be really pleased if they won it,” Newbold said.

“Obviously, I’m desperate for our club to win it but, if they (Eagles) were to win it, you won’t hear any complaints out of me.”

That prompted Fox to ask of his president: “why did he say that?”

But he admitted seeing Newbold’s point.

“Andrew and I have enormous respect for West Coast,” he said.

“What Andrew meant is that they’re a great club – they deserve it just as much as us.”

Newbold also said he was pleased star onballer Sam Mitchell finished runner-up to Nat Fyfe in Monday’s Brownlow Medal count.

“Secretly, I was happy he didn’t win it because I reckon it’s a distraction,” he said.

“I said to him after the count, ‘mate, the medal that counts is this Saturday’ and he said ‘yeah’.

“Individual accolades are great but really what we want is for the whole club to enjoy accolades.”

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