Hawks ready for season start: Clarkson - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hawks ready for season start: Clarkson

By Melissa Woods 12/02/2010 06:33:38 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has put a positive spin on missing last year's AFL finals, saying the long pre-season has put his club in a strong position ahead of their opening NAB Cup game.

The Hawks will meet Richmond at Aurora Stadium in Launceston on Saturday night as they look to put the disappointment of 2009 behind them.

The 2008 champions struggled through last season, cruelled by a serious injury toll, particularly among their defenders.

"Last year when we had a few hiccups with surgery and injury throughout the summer we just found we didn't have the time to recover those guys as well as we might," Clarkson said.

"We've had a great preparation and feel very optimistic about the prospects for our side this year.

"Our preparation this year has just been so much stronger than last year because of those four to six weeks ... that's been the biggest difference."

The Hawks are almost at full-strength for their clash with the Tigers, with the exception of gifted midfielder Cyril Rioli and new recruit Shaun Burgoyne.

"We're not resting any players, if they're fit and had a good preparation over the last three to five weeks they're playing, so that's most of our squad."

Clarkson said Rioli had been training well but had eased off his workload due to some groin tightness.

"He'll rest for another week and then we'll get him going again," the coach said.

"There's always a little bit of concern there with a groin injury but we're hopeful if we back him off and he responds well to treatment he'll be right to go in the latter stages of NAB Cup."

Similarly former Port Adelaide star Burgoyne, who has a troublesome left knee, has been pencilled in for a late pre-season hitout.

"He's doing well and starting to do skills work, which he'll do for three or four weeks and be ready for about the NBA Cup four game or the first round of the season, we're yet to decide that."

Clarkson said his side wanted to open the year with a win, but the clash was more about gaining some match fitness.

"If we can manage to progress through to the later rounds of the NAB Cup then that's great but if we don't, we'll go into the regional challenge and get our guys right for round one."

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