A trio of Hawthorn’s fringe players have emerged as the front-running candidates to replace the injured Ben Stratton in the team that plays Melbourne in a semi-final on Friday night.
David Mirra, Ryan Schoenmakers and Taylor Duryea sat out the Box Hill Hawks 29-point win over Geelong in the VFL semi-final on Sunday, with only a five day break until Hawthorn’s clash with the Demons.
Stratton injured his hamstring in the Hawks AFL qualifying final loss to Richmond last Thursday.
The defender won’t be available until at least the preliminary final – should the Hawks beat Melbourne – meaning Alastair Clarkson needs to shuffle his decks to find a way to defend Demons’ talls Sam Weideman and Tom McDonald, not forgetting the rest of their powerful attacking options.
Mirra seems the ideal replacement for Stratton, however he did not play in Box Hill’s VFL elimination final extra time win over Port Melbourne last week, meaning his last game was Hawthorn’s round 23 win over Sydney 15 days ago.
Duryea played in the extra time match, while Schoenmakers played in the AFL from rounds 18 to 23 but was a late withdrawal from Thursday’s qualifying final due to an achilles issue.
Box Hill Hawks coach Chris Newman was not at the club or their AFL game on Thursday because of the birth of his third child. He said he didn’t know how Schoenmakers’ injury has progressed.
‘‘I found out pretty late in the week [that the trio been held over]. It was yesterday. Selection was a little bit difficult,’’ he said after the game.
Newman said he didn’t know if it would be possible for anyone who played in Sunday’s VFL elimination final to back up in the AFL semi-final in five days on Friday.
‘‘I am not too sure,’’ he said. ‘‘It is a difficult turnaround to get you’re body fresh and ready to go but all these guys give themselves an opportunity we are both still in the finals. They’re all sort of there trying to put their hand up as best as possible and Clarko and the boys will make their decision.’’
Key defender Kaiden Brand performed well for Hawthorn’s VFL-affiliate in the strong win on Sunday, as did running defender Teia Miles and forward-midfielder Brendan Whitecross.
The coach also praised the attitude of the utility Duryea who has spent from round 17 onwards stuck in the VFL. ‘‘He has been terrific,’’ Newman said. ’