Captaincy talk 'helped Hawks resolve' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Captaincy talk 'helped Hawks resolve'

By Roger Vaughan 29/05/2010 01:50:47 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has dismissed talk about the AFL club's captaincy, but admits the speculation has helped galvanise the team.

The Hawks have a 3-6 record heading into Sunday's MCG match against Sydney, who are in the top eight.

But the Swans are undermanned through injury, losing Daniel Bradshaw and Tadhg Kennelly for this game.

Hawthorn are coming off an outstanding win over Carlton and are unchanged for this match, a reflection on their improved luck with injury over the last few weeks.

Before the Carlton game, there was talk outside the club about whether current captain Sam Mitchell or Luke Hodge was the better skipper.

"It's actually strengthened our resolve as a footy club, in a sense - we've been questioned externally and the response of the players in terms of our performance last week ... the way they've responded to the criticism has been first-class," Clarkson said.

"We're just very, very fortunate to have Hodge and Mitchell, together with (Jarryd) Roughead, (Jordan) Lewis, (Lance) Franklin, (Brad) Sewell, these types of guys, (Chance) Bateman, who have just been really, really strong pillars of this footy club for a long period.

"They share the leadership so well amongst the lot of them, Mitch just happens to be the spokesman on so many occasions because he has the title of captain.

"We're more interested, to be fair, about our on-field performance and getting our season up and going, that was really just a side-issue that was probably born out of the fact that we haven't been playing our best footy." Clarkson sees this match as another chance to put Hawthorn's season back on track.

"We were in a lull for a fair while, a good six weeks where we played well below par, hopefully it's our turn to get a good stretch of wins together," Clarkson said.

"But we're only one or two weeks into that - our form against Carlton, but we need to back that up with another good performance against Sydney." Hawthorn and Sydney are using this match as a fundraiser for the Kokoda Track Foundation and to raise public awareness of Kokoda's significance in Australian history.

Seven Australian veterans from the crucial World War Two battle in 1942 spoke to the Hawthorn players on Friday.

The 39th Battalion militia unit and the 2/14th Battalion combined to stop Japanese forces along the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

"They're not household names and they should be - strangely enough, our footballers are household names, but the real heroes of our nation aren't," Clarkson said of the Australian troops.

"They're nearly all celebrating their 90th birthdays, we just know so little about them.

"It's great the AFL has given us the opportunity to put Kokoda on the map and make people aware that what these brave soldiers did for our country in 1942 was enormously appreciated by the current generation.

"It's really about appreciation - had some of our boys lived 70 years earlier, they would have been there."

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