Champion Hawthorn midfielder Sam Mitchell says Fremantle coach Ross Lyon will be guided by data when it comes to considering Ryan Crowley for selection.
Crowley completes a 12-month doping ban this week and is understood to be available to be thrown in to face the Hawks in Friday night’s preliminary final.
The 31-year-old tagger memorably shut down Mitchell in the 2013 grand final, giving Lyon food for thought when considering his side.
Lyon all but ruled out selecting Crowley until Monday but admitted he was “a chance” to return.
Speaking on Talking Footy, Mitchell said Lyon would have all the tools available to him to know whether the hard-running Crowley would be able to keep up in the cauldron of finals footy despite missing the entire season.
“I think it is possible,” Mitchell said.
“You’ve got these GPS things, they’re looking at your live data, (coaches) know exactly what speed you’re running, how many accelerations, decelerations.
“They’re trying to replicate games but they make it harder than a game because they don’t want you to break down when you actually come back.
“From a conditioning point of view, (his time out) wouldn’t be an influence.”
Mitchell said whether Crowley plays or not, it helped him to visualise having a minder each week.
“From a mental point of view, if you prepare as if you are getting a very hard tag, it’s easy to transition to not having that.”
Hawthorn have been backed into favouritism for the preliminary final despite Fremantle finishing on top of the ladder and enjoying a week off.
Mitchell, a three-time flag winner, said the 74-point margin of the Hawks’ semi-final victory over Adelaide allowed them to slow down and get “a little bit extra run in the legs” for Friday night.
“We probably knew we had it won with a little bit to go, so you’re able to perhaps not go on that really hard run you might otherwise have gone on,” he said.
Hawthorn’s best Brownlow Medal performer of recent years predicted he would poll 15 to 21 votes next Monday, behind his tip as winner Nathan Fyfe.