Winter blast has Hawks' Clarkson primed

Ben McKay
Friday's cold, wet conditions will bring out Hawthorn and Sydney's best, Alastair Clarkson says

A brutal forecast for Hawthorn's Friday night's date with Sydney might deter the punters but Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson says those showing up to the MCG will witness an AFL classic.

Single-digit temperatures and rain is likely to make the round eight opener the first true winter rumble of the season.

Clarkson, never one to shy away from a confrontation, says bring it on.

"They're a tough contested ball side, have been for as long as I can remember ... those conditions are going to bring the best out in both sides," he said.

The Hawks are purring at 5-2, while the Swans have defied ordinary home form to be 4-3.

There's one form-line within that record that concerns Clarkson the most: the record away from home.

"They're travelling pretty well interstate at three and zip. We don't want to make that four and zip," he said.

"Like (matches against Geelong), so many of the games are really hard fought encounters and pretty evenly spread in terms of win and loss and never much more than two or three goals separating the sides.

"We're hoping despite the forecast of rain we're hoping our supporters will rug up like they do in England and still get to the game and bring their colours."

Excluding an 89-point blowout at Homebush, the average margin between the two sides has been seven points.

A major factor in how it might turn out is ex-Hawk Lance Franklin, who won two flags with Clarkson before departing to Sydney.

The superstar forward, who Clarkson said required specific team planning, has missed two weeks with a foot injury and is in the balance for Friday night.

"We've got contingencies in place. We prepare a side for when he's in it and when he's out of it," Clarkson said.

"We'll just wait and see with what they do."

Hawthorn can name an unchanged side from their last-out dismissal of Essendon, or return late withdrawals Will Langford and Ricky Henderson to their team.

Clarkson suggested Langford, if his injured back holds up, might be seen in the VFL while Henderson had overcome illness and should be named.

"He had a gastro bug. We got him on the Vegemite and toast on Sunday and Monday and he's been able to get some decent grub into him over the last couple of days and he's good as gold," he said.