Hawthorn are banking on a fired-up Luke Hodge to help kickstart their season after the Hawks stumbled out of the starting blocks against Essendon.
Alastair Clarkson’s side appeared slow at times and lacked composure in key moments in the season-opening 25-point loss to the Bombers on Saturday night.
Hodge’s return from a club-imposed ban won’t help with any leg speed issues, but it will certainly help calm frayed nerves when the heat is on.
“He’s been a fantastic player for our club and when he plays we win more often than not,” vice-captain Isaac Smith said of the former skipper.
“It’s a great confidence boost for the side. He’s going to be fired up and ready to go against a pretty strong Adelaide outfit.”
The 32-year-old is primed to return against the Crows at the MCG on Saturday after he had a final tune-up with VFL side Box Hill at the weekend.
Hodge’s absence after he was banned for missing a pre-season training session was all the more glaring with premiership teammates Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis starring for new clubs West Coast and Melbourne respectively.
Smith backed the club’s bold off-season moves, adding it would take time for Clarkson’s overhauled line-up to find chemistry.
He conceded the Hawks didn’t do themselves any favours against the emotion-charged Bombers, who ran away with the game in the last quarter and a half.
“You have six months to try and win the first game of the year and we stuffed it up,” he said.
“But there are 21 games to go.
“A little bit went wrong but we think a lot went right … a lot of our key indicators we ticked off.
“I think a lot of it was our finishing, we kicked 12.19 and if we kick 19.12 we probably win the game.”
Smith is confident the Hawks can cure their goal kicking yips in time to face the high-flying Crows, who kicked the highest score of the round in their 56-point demolition of flag favourites Greater Western Sydney.
“I don’t know if the Crows were shocked but I think a lot of people in footy were shocked with just how well they moved the ball and how quickly they scored,” Smith said.
“They were brilliant and it’s going to be a really tough test, but it’s our home ground with our supporters there so we’re looking forward to it.”
Four-time premiership star Cyril Rioli was restricted by a corked thigh against the Bombers but is expected to face Adelaide.