HAWTHORN coach Alistair Clarkson believes in his players and their ability to win matches, even if they fall behind at the start. Despite winning the AFL minor premiership and winning their last six games, the Hawks have experienced a few slip-ups in matches this season yet recovered to win.
Clarkson told a media conference he put the onus on his players to find a way to win if they suffered a poor start.
With all the emotions that come in the opening minutes of a major game, there is always the chance that even a side as good as the Hawks could face a deficit.
"It happens in games of football sometimes — your starts aren't great," Clarkson said.
"We've had poor starts in some games this year, then got ourselves back into contests.
"It's great if you get off to a good start. We'd like to be up at quarter-time, but if we're not we will have to get ourselves back into the game and then go from there."
The Hawks also have the firepower to score goals quickly and from multiple goal-kickers, as they have kicked the most goals in the league this season with 391, 34 better than second-placed Adelaide Crows while stars Lance Franklin, Luke Breust, Cyril Rioli, Jarryd Roughead, Jack Gunston and others remain threats for goal.
The AFL finals series always throws up distractions and fanfare which could challenge the focus of players but Clarkson maintains that his side has remained level-headed throughout the post-season.
He said the Hawks would continue to prepare Saturday's grand final as they had done through all their previous encounters.
"Once again it comes back to what we can control," he said.
"We can't control anything else that goes on with expectations or markets. All we can control is the way we prepare to play games of footy.
"It's an exciting time in the competition, the pointy end of the season.
"They're [the players] pretty experienced now and we have had 23 games and NAB cup to go through all those preparations and build ups.
"In terms of getting ready for the game there is no real difference and that is the way we approach that."