Hawthorn consider their AFL clash with West Coast as a chance to make real progress, with coach Sam Mitchell brushing aside talk of the “Harley Reid Cup”.
Reid is the likely No.1 draft pick, with Sunday’s match in Launceston between the cellar-dwellers dubbed a pointer to who will finish last on the ladder and get the top pick.
Mitchell, who has recovered from COVID-19 that kept him away from the club through the week, said his team were desperate to bank a second win for the season.
“It’s the media’s job to come up with narratives and stories,” Mitchell said on Thursday.
“I’m not all over the recruiting this time of year, it’s something we get into later in the year.
“What we’re trying to do is build a premiership team, and that’s not built off trying to lose games.
“You need players who are desperate to win at every opportunity and are going to try to play in a way that is going to be sustainable in finals footy, and we’re building towards that.
“This week’s another step in that direction and we hope that we can make real progress.
“We know that they’ve got a pretty significant injury list and they’re in a similar position on the ladder to us, so it’s a chance to get a win.”
While the Eagles have a horror injury toll, with 13 players currently unavailable for selection, the Hawks will be without Chad Wingard with a calf problem.
Defender Changkuoth Jiath is also set to miss with his own calf complaint, while ruckman Ned Reeves (ankle) is expected to return after being a late withdrawal last round.
Mitchell agreed it had been a frustrating year for two-time All-Australian forward Wingard.
“He (Wingard) knows that his form line is not what it should be for a player of his calibre,” the coach said.
“Like every player on the list, they need to continue to work and get the best out of themselves, and he is no different to anyone else.”
Mitchell said the club would take a conservative approach with exciting teenage midfielder Josh Ward, with bone stress issue detected in his foot.
The coach admitted he had been “knocked around” by COVID-19, which hit a number of staff members as well as forward Connor Macdonald, but he was ready to resume coaching duties.
“I bounced in this morning and am feeling good, but everyone is still avoiding me although I’m testing negative,” Mitchell said.
“Our coaching staff has done a great job. They put all the training vision online and I watched all that and was pleased.”