Leigh Matthews warns Hawthorn of back-to-back mindset

AFL legend Leigh Matthews has warned Hawthorn that last year’s premiership will not give it a psychological edge as the Hawks take aim at becoming the first team in more than a decade to claim successive flags.
Nanjing Night Net

Matthews was the last coach to take his team to such lofty heights, guiding the Brisbane Lions to three straight flags from 2001-03.

The Hawthorn great, who played in four premierships as a player with the club, said Alastair Clarkson’s men could go back-to-back but this required a specific mindset.

”I know it’s partly a psychology, but Hawthorn have got no better or worse chance in 2014 than any other team,” he said.

”In other words, of course you won it last year, but it doesn’t give you any advantage or disadvantage for the following season. That’s the reality that you have to get through your skull and everyone has to accept.

”And if you happen to win two in a row, that’s two separate campaigns that you have won. But the two things aren’t really related.

”There is no sense of entitlement … You just have to accept it’s a new year.”

Determined to avoid the dramatic slump that ruined their back-to-back bid in 2009, the Hawks have returned to training in mint condition.

The players agreed in the days after last year’s premiership to immediately turn their focus to this season, while club management have been happy with the mindset of all parties.

Matthews said he had yet to settle on his favourite to claim this year’s flag but said the Hawks were well positioned to challenge despite losing superstar forward Lance Franklin.

”Can is easy, of course they can win it. That’s gone on for every team that has won a premiership forever. They clearly can go back-to-back,” he said.

”They have certainly done a fantastic job in terms of their selective recruiting. [Brian] Lake was just fantastic for them and [Ben] McEvoy should be fantastic for them.

”Losing Franklin is obviously going to be a blow because he is such a good player. But as people have noted, they have done very well when he was not playing.”

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