Hawthorn defender Kyle Cheney says he is under no illusions of where he is at on the reigning premier’s list and is happy to remain a back-up player.
The former Demon lost his spot in the team after Tom Hawkins’ dominant final-quarter performance on him in Hawthorn’s round five loss to Geelong, but Cheney says he hasn’t lost any confidence in his defensive ability.
Key defenders Brian Lake, Ben Stratton and Ryan Schoenmakers also have returned from injuries over the past month.
“We rely on the whole back six or seven to work as a team, and it’s not on anyone’s shoulder for any one opponent, so it’s not as if I’ve dropped my confidence or anything on that sort of performance,” Cheney said.
“It (being dropped) was purely that (Brian) Lake had his three-week suspension up. He played his two weeks back here to get some good match fitness and he was cherry ripe to go back into the AFL squad, so it was just a matter of fact that he came in and I slid out.”
Cheney said he was happy with how he was going on Hawkins up until three-quarter time on Easter Monday. Hawkins finished with five goals to be the match-winner.
“He (Hawkins) was a tough opponent. He used his weight quite well. I was pretty happy with how I was going for three quarters, but the last quarter he used his strengths and got on top of me in the end,” he said.
Cheney said he was surprised to string five consecutive AFL games together to take his career tally to 37. He played just four matches last year.
“It was good to get a bit of a run together. I don’t normally get that many games together, so it was good to get five in a row together and to come back to a bunch of blokes like this (at Box Hill) is easy for the transition,” he said.
“I’m under no illusions of where I’m at on the list. We’ve got some quality defenders in (Josh) Gibson, (Ben) Stratton and (Brian) Lake that are playing that role, but I’m under no illusions on where I’m at.”
Hawks development coach Marco Bello said the one thing about Cheney was that he played his role week in, week out.
“He’s probably one of the best VFL players any time he comes back. He’s one of those guys that just does his role,” Bello said.
“He’s comfortable when he comes back down here. He loves playing down here, and I’m sure he’d love to be playing at AFL level - and hopefully he gets his go next week.”
Cheney is there to be called on again if needed after being best on ground for Box Hill with 28 disposals and five marks in its 106-point thrashing of Frankston on Saturday.
Jonathan Simpkin was solid in the midfield with 34 disposals, while ruckman Jonathan Ceglar had 49 hit-outs. Derick Wanganeen, who made his AFL debut earlier this season, also impressed with 22 touches.
Alex Woodward, who has impressed since returning from a shoulder injury, was rested.
“Maybe just to hold him (Woodward) over for the Tuesday (Box Hill’s Foxtel Cup match) or, as you saw at the big [AFL] game, I think there was a couple of injuries, so maybe just to keep one up our sleeves for that (Friday) game [against Sydney] as well,” Bello said.
CARLTON midfielders Nick Graham (31 disposals) and Jarryd Cachia (26) were among the best for the Northern Blues in their eight-point loss to Coburg.