Premiers Hawthorn claim underdog tag

Hawthorn winger Isaac Smith believes the Hawks will enter this AFL finals campaign as the hunter rather than the hunted.

Alastair Clarkson’s side will kick off their bid for a fourth consecutive flag when they take on Geelong at the MCG next Friday night and Smith insists they’re deserved underdogs.

“There’s two teams above us on the ladder so we’re definitely going out to hunt them,” Smith told reporters on Friday.

“They’ve got the right to be the favourites going into the game.”

Hawthorn held a closed training session on Friday morning, with most selection interest centred on injured pair Ben Stratton (pectoral) and Ben McEvoy (back), whose chances of playing have been helped by the contentious bye weekend.

While not a fan of the bye as a football lover, Smith admitted it had come at a good time from a team perspective.

“We’ve not been disappointed in the way that we’ve been playing but we believe we can play better,” he said.

“It was probably a good time to take (stock) and realise where we probably weren’t performing and where we can get that five or 10 per cent better.

“I think you can always improve things. Every individual can improve three, four or five per cent.”

The Hawks won six games by nine points or less this season on their way to third spot on the ladder.

Not only did that secure a double chance, it will give them confidence in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of a finals contest, according to Smith.

“I think being in close games certainly sets you up for finals footy because you don’t see too many blowouts going into September,” he said.

“So we’re confident that if the game’s close we can get the points but it would be nice to put ourselves in those situations.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!