Franklin will play, Clarkson says - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Franklin will play, Clarkson says

By Roger Vaughan and Melissa Woods 08/04/2011 07:09:52 PM Comments (0)

Determined to avoid the slow starts that have plagued their last two AFL seasons, Hawthorn are taking no risks with player fitness.

Stars Lance Franklin and Luke Hodge had extra-light duties at Friday's brief training session, fuelling rumours Franklin had rolled an ankle the day before.

But coach Alastair Clarkson said Franklin would definitely play in Saturday night's clash against a resurgent Richmond.

The Hawks are coming off a six-day break and the players had a light run on Friday, while Franklin and Hodge were in their runners as they only did ball drills.

Tigers assistant coach Wayne Campbell was an interested observer at the Waverley session.

"It's all about management - as we've seen in the early part of the season ... the first four or five rounds are treacherous in terms of serious injury," Clarkson said.

"There are some incidents you cannot manage - like perhaps the Jonathan Brown incident or Lenny Hayes ... but the soft-tissue ones and the groins are the ones.

"We're just mindful they're pretty important players for us and we want them on the track.

"Hopefully we can manage them well until they're fully match conditioned, which is probably going to be around round five or six, I reckon."

Clarkson added it was not a situation unique to Hawthorn, but the Hawks are more aware than most about the need for a solid start to the season.

A plague of early-season injuries in 2009 cruelled Hawthorn's premiership defence and they finished ninth.

Last season, they never quite recovered from their 1-6 start and had to settle for seventh.

After losing a pulsating game to Adelaide in round one, they smashed Melbourne last Sunday and will start favourites against the improving Tigers.

The Hawks kicked a wasteful 16.26 against the Demons, but Clarkson said a positive was they were able to keep giving their forwards plenty of shots on goal.

He noted Collingwood also had demonstrated plenty of goalkicking inaccuracy on the way to last year's premiership.

"You can't get all your game together all at the one time - if you do, you're probably playing premiership footy like Collingwood is at the minute," Clarkson said.

Meanwhile, Clarkson has described the incident that led to Cyril Rioli's suspension as "very, very minor".

Rioli is out for one game after bumping Melbourne's Nathan Jones to the chest.

The contact left Jones winded and the Demons' reaction undoubtedly contributed to the penalty.

"In a lot of instances, those bumps, the victim just bounces off and the game continues.

"The fact that Jones was winded for 30 seconds and it was obvious some contact had been made, that's what has probably copped Cyril the week.

"He bumps into players like that 30 times a game - sometimes he's the perpetrator and other times he's the recipient, that's the game of footy.

"We're disappointed he's not there, but God, gee, if we take that out of the game, we're in a little bit of trouble."

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