When the Hawthorn Hawks return to Adelaide for the second time this month, their hopes of keeping their season alive will require both hope and prayer.
They lost to Port in round 11 by a convincing 51-point margin, so their task is to defeat the Crows and leave the Adelaide Oval in break-even condition. Still with only four wins through 12 games of the 2017 Toyota AFL Premiership competition, it may be time to start having a look at some of the juniors.
This is precisely what the Hawks are not doing, however, as they will regain the services of three players who collectively bring almost 700 games’ worth of experience to the side that only recently had discussions about opening a flag shop.
The Hawks will have Luke Hodge, Luke Breust and Grant Birchall back on the ground. Birchall is returning from a knee issue and has played only three games this season after suffering a broken jaw in round two, and then a ligament issue immediately after returning from the injury to his jaw.
As if they needed to regain any players, the Crows will see the return of Luke Brown, but they will not have the services of Mitch McGovern until the week following. The Crows dropped Riley Knight.
McGovern seems to be complelty mended after kicking four goals in the Crows’ SANFL outing a couple of weeks ago, although he will be under close scrutiny and may not immediately make a return to the senior side.
Hawthorn has not been mathematically eliminated from the finals, but it would entail a monumental confluence of circumstances for them to get in, given that there are eight teams between them and the final spot in the finals, so to some observers, it is time to let the old guard rest and give way to the players that could potentially return the Hawks to their recent premiership glory.