Bring on Thursday AFL final: Clarkson

Alastair Clarkson remains focused on how Hawthorn can beat Richmond, not when their game is played.
Alastair Clarkson remains focused on how Hawthorn can beat Richmond, not when their game is played.

Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett is upset at their AFL final with Richmond being scheduled on a Thursday night but coach Alastair Clarkson is at peace with the mid-week clash.

True to form, the four-time premiership-winner is taking a ruthless attitude to their qualifying final, which kicks off the 2018 finals series next week.

"You'll get a different point of view from the players and coaching point of view than from a chairman," Clarkson said.

"As pointy-nosed as it seems, our focus is just 'where do you want us to play, let's just try our best to get the job done'."

Kennett bemoaned the 7:20pm kickoff, which will see the match finish about 10pm.

"The AFL are in control of this. We have no say in real terms," Kennett told SEN.

"Putting it at night and particularly on a Thursday night ... it's going to be very hard for a lot of families, younger people to attend.

"It's almost impossible for any of our 10,000 members from Tasmania to come across, let alone our other 10-15,000 around the country."

"There's no point in me complaining. I'm just stating the reality."

The last two finals series have begun in Perth and Adelaide on a Thursday night.

Opposition to the scheduling has bemused interstate fans, who've contended with a string of Thursday night matches during the past two seasons.

The AFL cited both "attendance and television viewership" success as a reason to put the Tigers-Hawks match on Thursday night, with a crowd in excess of 80,000 still expected at the MCG.

Of more concern to Clarkson is juggling his team's fitness through September given a number of players will need match minutes during the bye weekend.

Hawthorn's VFL affiliate, Box Hill, play Port Melbourne in an elimination final on Saturday afternoon.

That means senior Hawks on the margins - including James Frawley, James Sicily, forgotten veteran Grant Birchall and suspended young gun Daniel Howe - have to contend with a five-day break if they run out in the reserves.

"We'll have a look at that and see what implications it has for any of our players," Clarkson said.

Four-time premiership player Birchall hasn't played since round 15 last year but remains in the hunt for a stunning AFL return.

"He's had a pretty strong block of training over the last four to six weeks. We'll see where that goes," Clarkson said.

"Our biggest dilemma is going to be has he got the match fitness.

"I dare say we'll be backing this guy in if he gets himself there because he's a ripper. We'd select him in a heartbeat."

Clarkson said Jonathon Ceglar missed the round 23 win over Sydney due to a desire to go smaller and the ruckman was "right in the mix" to face the Tigers.

Australian Associated Press