THE Western Bulldogs were expecting to exchange sledges with Brian Lake in the NAB Cup on Friday night - until the Hawks announced that the former Bulldog was set to miss because of calf tightness.
"Brian tightened up a bit in the calf during the first game and won't play this week," Mark Evans, Hawthorn general manager of football operations, told the club website. Cyril Rioli (ankle) and Paul Puopolo (knee) will also be sidelined this week.
It's no secret that Lake enjoys the verbal banter between players in games, so before news of Lake's injury emerged, young Bulldog Luke Dahlhaus said he and the rest of the Dogs forward line were expecting to cop some trash talk when they took on Hawthorn - the club's last appearance in the prime Friday night slot for 2013.
''There'll be plenty of banter,'' said Dahlhaus, in the middle of a ''West Blitz'' school visit in Melbourne's western suburbs on Monday. ''But we'll try and just focus on the footy.''
Hawthorn's NAB Cup double-header in Queensland was Lake's first game in a new jumper since leaving the Dogs after 11 years during which he grew into an All-Australian full-back and anchored the defence during the club's last serious run at a premiership from 2008 to 2010.
Dahlhaus admitted it was ''a bit weird'' seeing Lake in brown and gold last Saturday night, but that it would be even stranger for players such as Bob Murphy, Daniel Giansiracusa and others in the club's older brigade.
The Bulldogs ended up with five picks in the top 50 partly as a result of the Lake trade.
That haul brought in power forward Jake Stringer (No. 5), classy midfielder Jackson Macrae (6), under-18 All-Australian Nathan Hrovat (21), father-son recruit Lachie Hunter (49) and tough midfielder Josh Prudden (50).
Dahlhaus said several of those youngsters would play on Friday night, so Dogs supporters could see what they had gained in compensation for Lake. ''It was a personal choice for [Lake to leave] and he thinks he's done the right thing,'' he said. ''And we've got a few kids out of it, so I guess both parties are pretty happy.''
Although win-loss results in the NAB Cup mean little to clubs, the Dogs are on the bottom of the pre-season ladder after losing to Essendon and Collingwood two weeks ago.
Already there are gloomy predictions for the Dogs in 2013, with some experts tipping them to finish bottom two along with Greater Western Sydney.
Dahlhaus said the players were aware of the deficiencies that have been highlighted by commentators, mostly revolving around poor foot skills. ''But we are pretty confident with how we are going and pre-season has been so far so good,'' he said.