Brian Lake is one of few men capable of matching Tom Hawkins pound for pound but Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has no qualms about leaving the defender in the VFL.
Hawkins ran amok in the final quarter of Geelong’s 19-point win on Easter Monday, swotting undersized opponent Kyle Cheney away to boot five goals at the MCG.
Clarkson afterwards declared Lake still on the comeback trail from a calf injury and said last year’s Norm Smith medallist simply wasn’t ready for AFL intensity.
“He might be next week. He’s played 160 minutes of footy over the course of two weeks,” he said.
“The temptation is to bring guys in. But it’s just foolish.
“Does it mean we lose a game of footy? Possibly.
“We’re more prepared to lose a game of footy than we are to lose a player who’s not conditioned properly to play.”
Clarkson suggested his team needed to work harder to ensure Cheney was never stuck in a one-on-one contest against Hawkins.
“One bloke’s 150kgs and the other is 80kgs, I don’t think it’s any surprise (Cheney was going to struggle),” he said.
“We thought if we had enough pressure on the ball through the middle, he’d be able to get some support from his fellow defenders.
“We did that pretty well for the bulk of the day but the dam wall opened in the final quarter.”
Hawkins certainly wasn’t getting carried away with his performance, saying his seven contested marks came about because of Geelong’s delivery as much as his own strength and timing.
“It was the midfielders and the way they kicked the footy to me,” Hawkins said.
“The ability of them to see the space in front of not only me but our forwards in general was great and you couldn’t ask for anything better.”