Hawks can cause finals damage: Clarkson

Hawks coach Alistair Clarkson says his side can make an impact in the AFL finals, if they make it.
Hawks coach Alistair Clarkson says his side can make an impact in the AFL finals, if they make it.

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson reckons his team can cause some damage if they can sneak into the AFL finals.

The Hawks must beat West Coast in Perth on Saturday night and hope Adelaide beat the Bulldogs in order to have a chance of snatching eighth spot.

Hawthorn have won five of their past seven games and Clarkson would love to see what his players can do on the September stage.

The Hawks finished fourth last year before exiting the finals in straight sets.

Clarkson feels his players would be better placed this time around despite not having the double chance.

"Last year we really limped into the finals," Clarkson said.

"We needed to use all our petrol tickets up to get that fourth position, and by the time we got there we couldn't fire our best shot unfortunately.

"We feel like if we did happen to sneak in now, we'd be able to do a bit of damage.

"We might have left our run too late. But we'll wait and see."

Even if Hawthorn fall short of making the finals, Clarkson said the game against West Coast would be a good measure of where his team is at heading into 2020.

Meanwhile, Clarkson isn't sure whether assistant coach Sam Mitchell is going to apply for the vacant Fremantle coaching position.

Mitchell cut short his stay as an assistant coach at West Coast in order to move his family back to Melbourne, but the vacant Fremantle position could tempt him to return to Perth.

Clarkson said it was important for assistant coaches to weigh up whether they're ready for a senior position.

"The dangling carrot of a senior coaching position is something that will certainly be tempting for Mitch," Clarkson said.

"But he needs to work out whether the timing is right.

"I've got no doubt at all that at some point in the future he's going to be a senior coach.

"If we use that as the base line, then let's just work out for both he and us when the best timing is for that.

"If he goes into it prematurely, it can be really ruthless. I've seen a lot of young coaches come in and not do so well early and then be spat out of the system far too early.

"I'd much rather guys do a good strong apprenticeship, and when they do get their opportunity they're ready to take it with both hands."

Australian Associated Press