HAWTHORN utility Matt Suckling believes the Hawks’ ability to limit the influence of West Coast ruckman Nic Naitanui will be crucial to their chances in Saturday’s AFL grand final.
An exciting West Coast team is the only thing that stands between the Hawks and a rare AFL premiership three-peat on Saturday.
Hawthorn has had some stumbles during the year but they have been at their absolute best over the last two weeks to win through to a fourth straight grand final.
West Coast beat Hawthorn by 32 points in the qualifying final but the Hawks learnt some valuable lessons that they hope can help them.
“I think you’ve got to stop their inside midfielders,” Suckling said.
“I think Nic Nat gives them first use and if they get the ball down in their forward line, they’re a dangerous forward line and they’re a forward line that can keep the ball inside their 50.
“If it’s played in their half a lot it’s going to be hard for us to get it up our end and score.”
Suckling has confidence in the fact this game is held at the MCG but also expressed respect for the Eagles.
We take some confidence to be back in Melbourne on the MCG, our home ground, which we love playing at.- Hawthorn's Matt Suckling
“Yeah we take some confidence to be back in Melbourne on the MCG, our home ground, which we love playing at,” he said.
“But obviously West Coast have been probably the best side all year really.
“Their form over the last 12 weeks has been outstanding.
“They touched us up in the first final so we’ll have to have a look at that and see how we can improve.”
While the Hawks started the year as premiership favourites, West Coast have surprised all to make it through to the grand final.
Suckling said the Hawks were quick to identify the Eagles as a premiership threat.
“I think early in the year we saw how well they set up behind the ball and stuff like that and it’s continued on throughout the year,” he said.
“A lot of people started to think they would drop away at some stage but their system has held true, even with a lot of injuries.
“It’s a credit to their coaching staff with their game plan and they’re going to be really hard to beat this weekend.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.