Hawthorn hold no fears about taking on Sydney at the MCG on Friday night, as they are the only AFL club to take down the in-form Swans in almost three months.
The two heavyweights started their 2018 campaigns in similarly disappointing fashion, but after six successive losses Sydney kicked on and now have a top four position in sight.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson says his 12th-placed team can take some confidence from their round 10 one-goal victory at the SCG.
“It gives us a little bit of confidence in that we are the only side that has beaten them in the last 10 or 11 weeks and that was on their patch as well and it’s always difficult to win up there,” Clarkson said on Thursday.
“They’re by far the best team in the competition in the last 11 weeks and they didn’t have such a great start to the year and nor did we.
“But their form over the last 10 or 11 weeks, they are three wins better off than any other side, including the team that is sitting on top in Adelaide.”
Clarkson was prepared for Sydney to target one or two of his players and said the Hawks wouldn’t let it be a distraction, using the example of Melbourne’s Tom Bugg, who king-hit Sydney’s Callum Mills.
“The off-the-ball niggling and that sort of stuff, as you can see if you don’t manage it well, like Buggy didn’t handle it too well three or four weeks ago, it can easily take your mind and focus off what you need to do,” he said.
The Hawks are coming off a big win over Fremantle although Clarkson concedes it’s “more unlikely than likely” they will be playing finals for an eighth straight season.
“We’re just taking it week by week and know that each week that we play gives us an opportunity to have a look at our players and the things that we’re trying to do to build towards when we can genuinely compete.
“We don’t think we’re there right at this point in time.”