BRIAN Lake is confident he can play almost every game in his new two-year contract with Hawthorn, as he aims to regain the form that twice earned in him an All-Australian guernsey.
The defender has reportedly taken a $200,000 pay cut to cross from the Bulldogs to the Hawks. While he declined to confirm that figure, he said he had taken a sizeable drop to don the brown and gold.
But the 30-year-old was adamant that every dollar missing from his pay packet would be worth it as he chases premiership glory.
''That's why we're here to play football,'' Lake said. ''You can have your individual awards but to be playing on that grand final day … I went this year to the game and that atmosphere and the build-up to it, you just want to be part of it.
''That's what I'm most excited about and looking forward to.''
Lake has come agonisingly close to playing in the grand final, with the Bulldogs losing preliminary finals in 2008, 2009 and 2010, before dropping down the ladder.
Although he was named All-Australian full-back in 2009 and 2010, he has not been able to recapture that form due to injuries to his hip, knee and shoulder.
But at Waverley Park yesterday, wearing a Hawthorn T-shirt, he said he was confident that he would enter the 2013 pre-season injury free.
''I've got a contract for two years, but I can see myself playing a lot longer than that,'' Lake said. ''I'm very confident about my body.''
He said the fact that Hawthorn's premiership window was wide open had given him further confidence about his abilities.
''I'm coming into a side that's made a grand final, so there's some good players around me. [And] It's a lot easier to be playing good football when the guys around you are playing good football as well.
''To play good football in a good side's a lot easier and that's the thrill of coming here.''
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson said the club had been interested in Lake for the past three seasons but the ''timing wasn't right'' until now.
The Hawks gave up draft picks 21 and 41 in return for Lake and pick 27 in a bid to strengthen a defence that was dominated by the opposition's big forwards, particularly Collingwood's Travis Cloke and Adelaide's Kurt Tippett, during the finals.
Clarkson said existing defenders Josh Gibson and Ryan Schoenmakers had been playing ''above their weight'' and Lake would help remedy that.
''We've got by in lot of the games and [Gibson and Schoenmakers] have done magnificent jobs for us but we just need a bigger, stronger brute that can handle some of those big lads and Brian can help us out in that regard,'' Clarkson said, slapping Lake on the back.
The coach also praised the trade with the Bulldogs, saying it was a win-win for both clubs.
''In the past it has been like trying to trade a Rolls-Royce for a Volksie,'' he said.
''But Western Bulldogs are looking long-term and they're shoring themselves up with draft picks. We're obviously a little bit more short-term. We think our opportunities are in the next three to four years and we think Brian can help us in that.''