WHY YOUR SIDE SHOULD – AND SHOULDN’T – WIN THE AFL GRAND FINAL
WHY HAWTHORN SHOULD WIN
* History – Hawthorn have been far and away the most successful team in the VFL/AFL since they broke their premiership drought in 1961. But they have never gone back to back to back. Making club history would be a powerful motivating factor.
* Been there, done that – Prime movers Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell are among six Hawks to have played in the 2008, 2013 and 2014 grand final triumphs. They know how to get it done.
* Been there done that (for even longer) – Shaun Burgoyne won his first flag with Port Adelaide way back in 2004 and was also a key member of the Hawthorn flag-winning outfits of 2013 and 2014. This will be the smooth-moving Burgoyne’s 31st final – only games record holder Michael Tuck has played more.
WHY HAWTHORN SHOULDN’T WIN
* Recent history – The same two teams met in the first week of the finals just three weeks ago and the Eagles proved far too good then, getting up by 32 points at Domain Stadium.
* Injury queries – Hawthorn were always going to include big guns Hodge and Jack Gunston. But are they fully fit? Gunston is the biggest worry, having missed the past two weeks with an ankle problem.
* Unpicking the web – Adam Simpson has won plenty of plaudits for his ground-breaking defensive web. Can the Hawks find a way through?
WHY WEST COAST SHOULD WIN
* Ruck dominance – Ruckmen have often played vital roles in AFL deciders and the Eagles have a clear advantage here in Nic Naitanui and his capable sidekick Callum Sinclair.
* Josh Kennedy – Hawthorn boast plenty of avenues to goal, but none of them looms as large as the Coleman medallist, who will fancy his chances of kicking a bag against likely opponent James Frawley.
* Freshness – The Eagles had the second week of the playoffs off courtesy of their qualifying-final win over the Hawks and, until now, have not left Perth since the first weekend of September. In contrast, Hawthorn have been in action every week of the finals, including two gruelling return trips across the Nullarbor.
WHY WEST COAST SHOULDN’T WIN
* The venue – West Coast might boast a 100 per cent record in 2015 at the MCG, but it’s a pretty small sample size as that victory over Richmond came on their only previous visit to AFL HQ this year. No one plays the `G better than the Hawks.
* Big-game experience – If the old adage that “you have to lose one before you win one” holds true then the Eagles are in real trouble. Only three members of their grand final team have played in a GF before, with Sam Butler the sole survivor from their most recent flag in 2006.
Lack of height in defence – The Eagles have covered superbly all year for injured key defenders Eric Mackenzie and Mitch Brown. But could this be the day they finally come up short when it matters most?