Hawthorn star Jordan Lewis has angrily denied accusations the Hawks quit during Sunday's second-half AFL wipeout against Sydney in Launceston.
Vice-captain Lewis described criticism by football commentators - including former Carlton premiership player and coach Robert Walls - that the side virtually stopped trying as stupid.
However, he did admit that Hawthorn's effort had dropped markedly as the Swans turned a 20-point half-time deficit into a 37-point victory.
''No player goes out onto the field and says, 'Oh, we're just going to give the other side four points','' Lewis said yesterday.
''That's just stupid to report that. We had certain areas of our game where we could have been better and in the future we really want to be better in those areas.
''But to go out and say a player came out in the second half and just didn't want to win is just stupid.
''If you watch the game our intensity just wasn't there and that could be perceived as just not wanting to win - but no player goes out there and wants to lose.''
Walls accused the Hawks of folding in the face of the Swans' relentless pressure.
''They just about chucked it in, absolutely,'' Walls said. ''I reckon it got too hard. They grind you, Sydney, just grind and grind. I reckon they're the most accountable team in the competition.''
The loss, which left Hawthorn with a 2-3 record, prompted a player meeting yesterday morning in a bid to keep the side positive. Lewis, who spoke at the player-only meeting called by the club's leadership group, said it was important the Hawks kept their heads up.
''We had a little meeting this morning, just the players, and we said we've had one bad half for the season,'' he said.
''I spoke and said it's important that we keep the morale up. The media are probably going to bash us externally, and so they should, but we know internally, we've played some good football this year and we've been close in games.''
Lewis maintained that morale now was high, although he could not predict how the players would react if they remained on the losing side of the ledger.
''Keeping morale up - it may be [a problem] down the track but right at the moment I can honestly say that it's not,'' he explained.
Hawthorn has had a tough draw to start the season and Lewis felt the side was not too far off the pace.
''I don't think it's a huge gap but there is definitely a gap,'' he said.
''Hopefully through the year we can bridge that gap come finals time.
''We've got the players and the talent to do that, we just need to home in on the little things.''
Meanwhile, injured Sydney duo Lewis Roberts-Thomson and Nick Malceski have been cleared of structural damage and could be fit to face Adelaide at the SCG on Saturday.
Tall utility Roberts-Thomson, who only recently returned from a fractured cheekbone, suffered another facial cut against Hawthorn last weekend, while dashing half-back flanker Malceski incurred a knock to his knee during the game in Launceston.
''LRT's face and also Nick Malceski's knee are both OK structurally, we will just see how they go later in the week,'' Sydney coach John Longmire said yesterday. ''Hopefully they will both be able to play. One of them might play, I'm not too sure, but we'll see how we go on Thursday's training session.'' AAP