Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge admits he was concerned his teammates might wilt under the glare of the hottest AFL grand final on record.
Both Alastair Clarkson and West Coast counterpart Adam Simpson dismissed the notion that the forecast heat in Melbourne would be a major issue before the game.
But after the temperature reached a maximum 31.3 degrees in the first half, Hodge admitted the torrid conditions had taken a toll.
“I looked at the boys at halftime and, no doubt, there was a bit of a question mark,” Hodge told the Nine Network on Sunday.
“We were looking at each other and everyone was tired; everyone was fatigued.
“But how they responded was a great result.
“They didn’t give in, they kept pushing and to sit back and enjoy the last quarter as we did was a great result.
“No doubt, the pressure from West Coast, but also the pressure from the heat and everything else, it was a tough day.”
Saturday’s premiership decider surpassed the 1987 grand final between Hawthorn and Carlton, won by the Blues, as the hottest on record.
After claiming their third premiership in a row, the triumphant Hawks were presented to a 12,000-strong crowd at Glenferrie Oval on Sunday in similarly warm conditions.
Clarkson thanked the fans for their support during what had been a difficult campaign, punctuated by the tragedy of the death of assistant coach Brett Ratten’s son in a car accident.
“It’s been a challenging year and we’ve had to face a few obstacles but that’s not unlike things we’ve all had to confront at different stages throughout the course of our lives,” Clarkson said.
“This year, we were touched by a fair amount of tragedy and, when it really hits home close to your heart, then it’s really hard to focus on your footy and go to war against opposition sides but these guys are a really resilient group, they’re an experienced group and they’re very proud.
“We’re enormously indebted to them for bringing home the bacon yesterday.”
Hodge has spoken of the passion of his group to continue their golden era of success but it remains to be seen if veterans Brian Lake and David Hale will be part of that push for another flag.
Lake is keen to continue next year while Hale is mulling retirement, with no clues offered about their futures at the family day.