Hawks serious about AFL's pre-season - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks serious about AFL's pre-season

By Guy Hand 23/02/2006 05:14:50 PM Comments (0)

Other clubs may say the NAB Cup doesn't matter, but let there be no doubt about Hawthorn's ambitions in the AFL pre-season competition.

"We've had a long pre-season and we're keen to see how far we've come," said Hawthorn skipper Richie Vandenberg of his side's first round clash with Richmond at Telstra Dome on Saturday.

For the Hawks, 14th last season with just five wins, every match is further experience for a club fielding more youth than Australian Idol auditions.

While other clubs are resting experienced players en masse and fielding below-strength sides, Hawthorn's only missing big name this weekend is gun midfielder Shane Crawford.

Crawford picked up a minor knee knock in last week's intra-club match and will be rested, along with injury-prone veteran John Barker and young defender Josh Thurgood, who is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.

Ruckman Peter Everitt, gun midfielder Sam Mitchell and emerging stars Jarryd Roughead, Jordan Lewis and Lance Franklin have all been named in the squad to play the Tigers.

"It's all about giving the kids some opportunity and developing confidence," Vandenberg said.

"Obviously there's not quite the pressure in the NAB Cup as there is in round one and as the season goes, the pressure builds.

"It's good for the kids to get out there while they're feeling fresh - they're champing at the bit."

But Vandenberg has warned against fans expecting the Hawks to do a St Kilda and power up the ladder in 2006 despite its two years of heavy dipping into the AFL draft.

"Obviously the expectation of the players is we want to be a very competitive side," Vandenberg said.

"How far we can take that depends on the development we put in last year and how quickly these new young guys come on this year.

"We've got a reasonable expectation of ourselves that we're going to be a good side this year, but we just hope people understand the phase we're in and what we're trying to do.

"We're trying to build a side from the ground up that will be a good side for many years to come, rather than just have a quick-fix process."

Richmond is applying a "no-risk" policy during the pre-season, but will welcome back midfielder David Rodan, who has not played since a serious knee injury in last year's pre-season.

Forward spearhead Matthew Richardson and veteran ruckman Greg Stafford, as well as ex-Western Bulldogs forward Patrick Bowden have all been named in the 28-man Tigers squad.

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