Master-coach Alastair Clarkson has dismissed any notion that Hawthorn are undermanned as they start the chase for a fourth consecutive AFL flag.
Clarkson said the focus on the six changes from the Hawks’ 2015 premiership side to the team taking on Geelong at the MCG on Easter Monday was more about a natural focus on the AFL pacesetter.
“We’ve got three guys out injured on top of a couple of retirements and a trade, so we haven’t got a crisis,” he said before the final training session at Waverley on Sunday.
“Every club has two or three injuries at this point in time, if not more. So we’re not tracking too bad in that space, it just looked significant.
“The guys coming in, we’ve got full confidence they’re going to play well for us.”
Replacement Hawks James Sicily, Jono O’Rourke and Angus Litherland have each played less than 20 AFL games, while Will Langford, Jonathon Ceglar and Billy Hartung have yet to reach the 40-game mark.
It represents a massive drop in experience compared to injured key forward Jarryd Roughead (231 games), retired duo Brian Lake (251) and David Hale (237), traded defender Matt Sucking (102) and sidelined pair Liam Shiels (124) and Brad Hill (75).
Lake’s departure means James Frawley is likely to get the big job on Cats’ spearhead Tom Hawkins.
“It is different with Lakey going out of our back end,” said Clarkson.
“It means you structure up differently with little subtle changes.
“But by and large, all sides change from year to year and this has been given a little more credence because we’re the premiership side from the previous year, so they always recollect who was there in early October and who isn’t there now.
“We know we have to keep bringing new players into our system.
“Some of these guys have been at our club for some time now and they’re all ready to make a go of their careers.”
The Hawks coach said it could take weeks before there was evidence of any game plan changes as the premiers strive to remain ahead of the chasing pack.
“There will be subtle (changes) and that will simply be due to different personnel,” said Clarkson.
“Some rules changes mean you have to stay on your toes.
“But there will be other things the coaches have looked at to do things a little differently.
“We need to because you want to try to stay ahead of the game.”