Hawks must adapt despite injuries: coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks must adapt despite injuries: coach

By Adam Cooper 28/03/2009 10:04:21 AM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says the reigning AFL premier must adapt to being without key players to keep its title defence on track.

The Hawks began the 2009 season without six members of last year's premiership side, and after round one are nursing a first-up defeat plus the likely loss of another three players.

Star Luke Hodge and ruckman Simon Taylor were reported in Friday night's eight-point loss to Geelong at the MCG, while half-forward Michael Osborne suffered a hamstring injury.

The Hawks were without first-choice players Trent Croad, Jordan Lewis, Stephen Gilham, Xavier Ellis, Rick Ladson and Robert Campbell.

Although pleased his side fought back from 43 points down early in the last quarter, Clarkson said the Hawks had to learn to cover absences.

"Whether we've got injuries or not, that's going to happen in footy," he said after Geelong won 15.21 (111) to 16.7 (103).

"Last year it was suspensions for us and we still managed to get some wins early in the season.

"(Last) night we didn't play well enough consistently enough throughout the course of the game to put enough scoreboard pressure on the Cats.

"It would be fair to say the margin should have been greater at three-quarter time had they kicked a little bit straighter.

"We were fortunate we were still in the contest, but we need to improve a fair bit on that effort going into round two against the Swans."

Hawthorn began 2008 with four key players - Hodge, Lewis, Campbell Brown and the now-retired Shane Crawford - all suspended, but they still won their first nine games.

Clarkson was unsure if any of the injured players would return to play Sydney, but the Hawks face the prospect of losing both Hodge and Taylor.

Hodge was reported for striking Tom Lonergan, when he made high contact trying to spoil, and Taylor was booked for misconduct, for dropping his knee into Joel Selwood's face when the Cat was on the ground.

Most worryingly for Hodge, the Norm Smith medallist has 70 carry-over points against his name.

Geelong also have judicial concerns, as Max Rooke was reported for bumping Hawthorn skipper Sam Mitchell and Andrew Mackie was booked for striking Brent Renouf.

But Geelong coach Mark Thompson was mainly pleased with the first-up game, especially the first three quarters and the way the Cats steadied when the Hawks got within two goals with five minutes left.

The only concern was his side's inaccuracy in front of goal, especially following last year's grand final, when the Cats paid dearly for their misses.

"It's never been an issue apart from those few games," Thompson said.

"It just goes into runs like that, it just corrects itself, it's not as if we can't kick goals from set shots. We have proven we can.

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