Clarkson says AFL changes best for Hawks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Clarkson says AFL changes best for Hawks

By Melissa Woods and Laine Clark 02/09/2011 03:43:02 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson believes the opportunity to widen his selection pool ahead of the AFL finals is worth the risk of surrendering winning form.

The Hawks will rest eight players - including stars Lance Franklin, Luke Hodge, Cyril Rioli - for Saturday's match against Gold Coast in Queensland.

Clarkson said the players brought into the squad, including Ben Stratton, Sam Mitchell and Chance Bateman, will give him more than 30 players to select from for Hawthorn's qualifying final with Geelong at the MCG next Friday night.

"We'll have about 30 players who have all played senior AFL footy in the last two weeks of the season and that's gold," Clarkson said.

"There's about six or eight players over the last eight weeks who haven't played as much AFL footy as we would have liked going into the finals.

"This gives them a great opportunity to put their hand up for selection when we go to select our side for the qualifying final.

"We're in this caper to try and win premierships and we think this is the best preparation to try and get ourselves a result."

Clarkson won't be using the match against the lowly Suns as a glorified training run, and expects the players he has selected to perform.

"We think it's still a pretty good side ... we expect them to put in a really strong performance leading into the finals.

"Winning form's good form and we're going there preparing to win and, hopefully, the 22 who represent the Hawthorn side tomorrow acquit themselves well."

The recently re-signed coach said he made the unusual move of contacting Suns coach Guy McKenna to inform him of his plans to make wholesale changes.

He said Gold Coast gave him their blessing.

"I didn't want him (McKenna) to be sideswiped ... I thought it was courtesy."

Gold Coast skipper Gary Ablett said the Hawks had presented his side with an enticing chance to end their debut season on a winning note.

"Obviously, Hawthorn having a few players out, we think, is a big opportunity for us and it'd be great to get a win at home to finish off the season.

"We'll make sure the boys are up and have a real good crack at it."

Ablett said the Hawks' decision to rest the players made sense.

"They've obviously got a six-day break coming into the Geelong game and I think if we were in the same situation, we probably would have rested a few players as well.

"Maybe some of their bodies need the rest and I don't think it's disrespectful at all."

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