Jed Anderson of the Box Hill Hawks marks over the top of Jackson Sheringham of the Cats during the VFL grand final match on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images
As Hawthorn seeks grand final redemption, at least one player will get a reprieve, with Brendan Whitecross' injury forcing change on the Hawks.
Jed Anderson, who was unlucky to be squeezed out of the Hawthorn side against Geelong to make room for the return of Cyril Rioli, performed well in the Box Hill Hawks' VFL grand final win against Geelong on Sunday and must be considered the front-runner to come into the side that is otherwise injury free.
Fringe midfielder Jonathan Simpkin also made a case to be the man to seize the spot by winning the Norm Goss Medal for best on ground, gathering 26 touches and two goals.
Lance Franklin insists the elbow he hyper-extended in Friday night's preliminary final would not inhibit him, and Brent Guerra, who suffered a corked thigh and later a shoulder injury, was confident of being able to run out the injury this week.
Whitecross is the only Hawk certain to miss after suffering another ACL rupture. He was used as the substitute in the preliminary final, coming on for ruckman Max Bailey.
The Hawks had been conflicted about leaving out a player of Anderson's pace and run and the loss of Whitecross would appear to pave the way for his return. Shane Savage and Taylor Duryea also played well in the VFL grand final win.
Former Geelong ruckman Steven King, in 2007, was the last man to play in a VFL grand final and be selected in the AFL grand final in the same week.
"I'd love to play but I guess that comes down to the coaches and the match committee,'' Simpkin said after Sunday's win.
''I'll just wait and see. I'll train this week still, obviously someone is going to come in for Whitey [Whitecross], but there's a handful of guys that can put their hand up."
Hawthorn players had mixed views on the impact of last year's loss, with David Hale saying it was a good chance to "right the wrong", while full-forward Jarryd
Roughead said they shouldn't burden teammates who were not part of the loss to Sydney last season with the pain of that defeat.
Roughead feels if Hawthorn does things its way it should not have to worry about invoking last year's emotional loss.
''The group has changed a fair bit here,'' he said.
''We don't want to be remembering losses with some of the boys that didn't play in the 'grannie' last year.
''Hopefully on Saturday we are all right to go and don't need to worry about last year.''
Regardless, individuals approach games differently and Hale said he would draw on the disappointment of last year's defeat.
''Obviously it still sits with you for a long time,'' he said.
''You speak to the blokes who lost 20 years ago and they still talk about grand finals they lost. But … we get a chance a year later to right the wrong, I suppose, of last year.
''We just have to put four quarters together on Saturday. Last year we probably played some good footy during the year, but it doesn't count for much if you don't get it done on the day.''
Hale said the Hawks could not afford a case of the goalkicking yips, which hurt their hopes in last year's grand final, and was an issue early in the game against the Cats on Friday night.
''I guess everyone spoke about Geelong going in, how they had been inaccurate. Obviously, last year [in the grand final] it probably cost us as well. It is such an important aspect of the game,'' he said.
''If you start feeling the pressure, it's probably not a good thing.
''You just have to clear your mind and get the job done.''