HAWTHORN coach Alastair Clarkson continues to play down his team’s premiership push despite the Hawks sitting just one win outside the top eight on the AFL ladder.
Clarkson insists player development is the priority even as his Hawks tackle second-placed Brisbane in Launceston on Saturday as one of the in-form teams in the competition.
“We’re still in and about, but more for us it’s finding the method and personnel that’s going to help us seriously challenge,” he said, despite wins against Collingwood, Fremantle and Geelong in the past three rounds.
“At the minute, you couldn’t say we’re serious challengers.
“Every side in the competition has struggled to maintain their very best form. We didn’t win two in a row until the last three weeks.
“We’re trying to find the best path to tread in terms of getting there.
“It might happen in the next six to eight weeks, but it’s probably more unlikely than likely.”
Clarkson lauded the performance of young guns Tim O’Brien, Daniel Howe, Mitch Lewis and Oliver Hanrahan in last weekend’s four-goal win over the ladder- leading Cats.
The Lions, led by coach and Clarkson’s former righthand man Chris Fagan, along with Hawks premiership captain Luke Hodge, are the most recent team to beat Hawthorn in Launceston in round 17 last year.
The Lions also won the first clash between the two sides this year at the Gabba back in round 11.
“Both those guys had been in our organisation for the best part of a decade,” said Clarkson.
“So they would know a lot about the way we play and a lot about our players.
“Our challenge now is how can we overcome that little bit of a disadvantage.
“Has it been the reason they’ve won?
“We were five goals to zero against Brisbane early this year, so whatever Fages and Hodgey told them about how to stop Hawthorn, they couldn’t do it in the first quarter.
“But then we couldn’t do too well in the next three quarters to stop them getting in front again.
“It’s another significant challenge that we have to overcome.”
Clarkson said the midfield duels against Brisbane, led by the prolific Lachie Neale, will be critical to the outcome this time.
© AAP 2019