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Hawks fly north to battle Buddy's Swans

Rohan Connolly previews round eight of the AFL season, including Hawthorn's clash with Sydney on Friday night.

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Sydney will unveil the highest-priced forward line in AFL history just in time for Lance Franklin's first game against his former side Hawthorn.

And, as if there wasn't enough pressure on Franklin, Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has added to the intrigue by engaging in subtle mind games with his former star.

As it was confirmed on Thursday that Franklin would finally tag-team with fellow blue-chip recruit Kurt Tippett for the first time in Friday night's clash at ANZ Stadium, Clarkson cast doubt on whether the million-dollar pairing would be able to function together in the same forward half.

Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett.

Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett. Photo: Janie Barrett

Clarkson has little doubt the "Buddy and Tippett show" will become a force, but questioned whether they would be able to develop a chemistry straight away.

“They have never played together before, so that could mean what we get tomorrow night is unbelievable, or it could be that they really battle with it," the two-time premiership coach said.

“We don’t know, and neither does Sydney. That is probably going to be the intriguing part of the contest.

"They've recruited those two big guys for a reason and it's because, in their view, they're going to be significant contributors for the club. It is going to be ground-breaking in a sense, no matter which way it unfolds. 

"They're going to be formidable at some point of time ... is that going to be tomorrow night? We hope not."

Tippett, the club's leading goalkicker last season and reportedly on a contract worth $3.5 million over four seasons, will play his first game this year after overcoming back and rib issues. 

Franklin, on a nine-year, $10 million contract and the leading goalkicker this season, did not play last week because of knee tendonitis, but got through Wednesday's training session.

Supporters and rivals clubs will get their first glimpse at how Sydney plans to set up its attacking system with not only twin towers Franklin and Tippett, but also Adam Goodes and Sam Reid.

The Swans opted not to bring in Lewis Roberts-Thomson, which means one of the Swans' other big men will assist Tom Derickx in the ruck, with Mike Pyke out with a hamstring injury.

The Hawks recalled mid-sized defender Kyle Cheney for his first game since he was monstered by Geelong forward Tom Hawkins on Easter Monday.

Cheney will be responsible for one of Sydney's key talls, alongside fellow defender Ben Stratton, who was also named on Thursday night, as well as youngster Will Langford.

Clarkson said Ryan Schoenmakers, who looked impressive playing forward last week, would likely swing back to defence to cover for the injured Brian Lake. The Hawks announced on Thursday night that Lake had undergone surgery to deal with a cyst at the back of his knee. The cyst was contributing to his calf problems but the surgery was not expected to extend his time on the sidelines.

Clarkson said the Hawthorn coaching staff had not discussed Franklin this week, but understood his players had been talking among themselves.

"It's the case with all players when they switch clubs ... on the field you're fierce competitors and off the field you're still pretty good mates.''

Sydney midfielder Josh Kennedy, also a former Hawk, said the Swans knew Friday night's showdown was a big deal for Franklin, "but at least he'll know that he's got 21 other players behind him".

In his column for Fairfax Media, former North Melbourne legend Wayne Carey said he considered the week before a player's first game against his old club to be more mentally draining than the week leading up to a grand final.

"As Lance Franklin is set to find out, coming up against your former team can be a daunting challenge," he wrote. "While my situation was clearly more extreme, Buddy will be experiencing similar emotions, and it is genuinely tough.

"I was just desperate to get it out of the way. It really was the week from hell."

Clarkson claimed the Hawks had not spent much time preparing for Franklin - "we know what his strengths and weaknesses are'' - and insisted the Hawks had moved on from Franklin's decision to sign with the Swans.

“We didn’t necessarily like the fact that Bud left our club for an opposition club, but it was a pretty good deal [for him],” he said. “We have been able to find some blue sky since Bud left."