Luke Hodge has addressed Hawthorn’s poor AFL form the same way he plays – bluntly and straight down the line.
While Hawks president Jeff Kennett was prepared to discuss their personnel problems on Tuesday, Hodge brushed that aside as an excuse, saying “that’s football”.
Hodge said Kennett and Hawks legends Jason Dunstall and Dermott Brereton were well within their rights to savage the team.
Hawthorn, tipped as a top-four contender this year, slumped to 1-5 after Saturday night’s woeful performance against fellow struggler Essendon.
Kennett went as far as questioning the players’ “ticker” ahead of the must-win game on Saturday at Subiaco against West Coast, which also has just one win.
“You can’t complain … what we produced on Saturday night, we had no ticker, it was disappointing,” Hodge said.
“It’s something we’ve gone through, we’re going to focus on what we can do to beat West Coast and the hunger will be there this week.”
Hodge repeatedly said that Hawthorn’s on-field crisis came down to attitude and he has promised that will return against the Eagles.
Asked how well they could perform this year, Hodge replied: “You’ll see this Saturday – we’ll come out fighting this week and we’ll see how good we can be.
“Personnel comes into it a little bit but it’s mainly the attitude of the blokes who are playing.”
Hodge added that his team could still have a successful season, pointing out that Collingwood and Adelaide made the finals last year despite being 3-5.
But Hodge strongly disagreed with Brereton, who said he was “sickened” that Hawks players shook hands with opponents and were laughing after Saturday night’s finally siren.
“As far as blokes smiling, I probably don’t agree with that, but as far as shaking the hand and saying, ‘well done, mate, (you were) too good on the night’, I’ve got no problems,” Hodge said.
Predictably, Kennett used his regular note to club members on Monday to blast the team.
A day later, he said as president he had a responsibility to be transparent.
The Hawks are set to drop several prominent players for the Perth trip, but captain Sam Mitchell is no guarantee yet to return.
Mitchell trained apart from the main group on Tuesday morning as he recovers from hamstring tendinitis.
Meanwhile, Kennett said it was only a coincidence that the Hawks launched their round-10 Kokoda Game on Tuesday at the same time as they try to resurrect their floundering season.
The Hawks, including Kennett, have walked the rugged Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea as a team-building exercise and to honour the crucial 1942 battle, where outnumbered Australian forces repelled Japan.
Hawthorn will wear a special guernsey for the game against Sydney and raise funds for locals who live along the track.