AAP AFL

Hawks looking for next Roughead in AFL

By AAP Newswire

Hawthorn's quest to find the next Jarryd Roughead means the current version remains out of their AFL side.

Coach Alastair Clarkson defended the non-selection of the veteran ruck-forward after their 19-point loss to Essendon on Friday night at Marvel Stadium.

Roughead has been out of the senior side since round seven and appears certain to retire at the end of the season.

The Hawks dropped young key forward Mitch Lewis for Friday night and experimented with James Sicily in attack, rather than recall Roughead.

Sicily showed some good signs, but ultimately had to return to defence after Essendon took control in the third term.

"We're at exploration phase, in a sense," Clarkson said.

"Rough's in the twilight of his career and perhaps much towards the end of it.

"We're also just trying to find out what does the shape and structure of our front end look like."

The result left the Hawks in serious trouble with a 5-7 record, two games outside the top eight.

As he has done several times over the last few weeks, Clarkson said the priority was working out how they win their next premiership rather than look for quick fixes.

"It will be tough, we're 5-7 and we need everything going right for us," he said.

"But it's not about that necessarily for us.

"We've always said, it's about trying to put together our side that can best place ourselves so we can be in contention at some point in the next two or three years.

"That can happen very, very quickly or it can take some time."

Clarkson compared Hawthorn to an out-of-form golfer, in that there always seems to be a part of their game that is struggling.

"We just can't put it all together," he said.

On Friday night it was their putting, or finishing in attack that let them down.

Hawthorn had enough chances in the first half, but only managed six goals.

Too often, they played into Essendon's hands by kicking straight to key defenders Michael Hurley and Cale Hooker.

"We spoke during the week about the key pillars in the Essendon defence ... and the manner in which you need to take the ball inside 50," Clarkson said.

"If you just kick it high and straight it's going to play straight into their hands and we did that too much in the early parts in the game."