Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui
Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is confident his side can cope with West Coast even if star Eagles ruck duo Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui dominate the hit-outs.

Naitanui starred as the Eagles thrashed Collingwood by 49 points at Patersons Stadium last week as he and Cox combined to have 59 hit-outs to Cameron Wood's 12.

It led to John Worsfold's men dominating the clearances (47-23) and they could do likewise against the pairing of David Hale and Jarryd Roughead at the MCG on Friday night.

But Clarkson said that while he respected Cox and Naitanui, he was optimistic the Hawks could deal with the duo during the blockbuster clash.

"I suppose the attitude we take is that if those guys were unstoppable, they (West Coast) wouldn't have been defeated this season," Clarkson said before training at Waverley Park on Thursday.

"Somewhere along the line some sides have been able to do well enough against them that they've been able to take the points off them. That's certainly what we're hoping to do.

"They're formidable, both of those players, and they give them first look at the ball on numerous occasions through the stoppages, but they're not outstandingly dominant in terms of clearances or scores from stoppages.

"As good as those two guys are, it doesn't always mean it's going to be a victory for West Coast."

Slow starts have been a worry for Hawthorn and Clarkson said first quarters in the past month were a concern.

Hawthorn found themselves 38 points behind before rallying to beat Sydney on Saturday, but have also lost first quarters against Port Adelaide and Geelong in the past month.

Asked if their starts were a concern, Clarkson said: "Over the last three or four weeks, you'd say 'yes' - over the course of the season you'd say 'no, we've been pretty good'.

"We came up against a pretty talented side in Sydney last week and, at some point in time, whether it's the first quarter or some other stage of the game, you're not going to be able to hold Sydney."

The Hawks are expected to name mercurial forward Cyril Rioli, who has trained throughout the week after missing a fortnight with a shoulder injury.


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