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Hawks wait on Smith ahead of AFL final

Hawthorn will make a call on Isaac Smith’s fitness in the hours leading up to Friday night’s AFL qualifying final against West Coast.


The line-breaking winger, who strained ligaments in his left knee against Carlton last week, had previously only been rated a 50-50 chance to play and did not train on Thursday afternoon with his teammates at Subiaco.

He flew to Perth on Wednesday with a group of six players, with the rest of the Hawks’ travelling party flying out on Thursday morning.

Before he left Melbourne, coach Alastair Clarkson said Smith’s performance at training would be a key factor in determining his fitness to take on the Eagles.

But despite not taking part in the main session, Smith was named on Thursday night in the selected side.

“He ran yesterday and he pulled up pretty well, so we’ll see how he pulls up tomorrow,” Hawks assistant coach Adem Yze said before training.

“I’m not sure what he’ll do today – he’ll do a little bit.

“Hopefully, it all goes well tomorrow, so we’ll make a call on that tomorrow morning … he’s an important player for us.

“The test is going to be more tomorrow, to see how he pulls up from today and whatever he does tomorrow morning.

“We’ll leave that until the last minute.”

The Hawks have made three unforced changes to the side that had thumped the Blues, with Luke Hodge, Cyril Rioli and Luke Breust all recalled.

Hodge returns to the side after a two-week suspension and the controversy over his drink-driving charge but Clarkson doesn’t feel like the skipper owes his team anything extra after a rugged fortnight.

West Coast have lost Chris Masten to a hamstring injury, recalling Will Schofield and Scott Selwood.

As keen as he is for Smith to retain his spot, Clarkson says the increased intensity of a final demands tough calls be made at the selection table.

“We need to win a game of footy so we’re going to take our best team in, but we’re not going to take in blokes that aren’t quite right,” he said. “So if he can’t prove his fitness, then he doesn’t play – it’s pretty simple really.”

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