Ryan Schoenmakers tussles with Magpie Travis Cloke during the 2012 finals
WHILE he remains confident in his ability to handle the key forwards, Hawthorn's Ryan Schoenmakers admits he was "pretty happy" when he heard the club had recruited key defender Brian Lake from the Western Bulldogs.
Lake's impact on the Hawks' flag tilt can only be speculated upon at the moment but most believe he will relieve Schoenmakers of the duty of playing on the opposition's best key forward each week.
And most sense that will make the Hawks a better team.
After all, Champion Data statistics showed Schoenmakers conceded more goals than any other defender from a top eight side last season.
Even Schoenmakers admits it will be nice to get some support playing on the opposition's talls and that his new teammate's experience will teach him how to use his body better and compete more strongly in one on one contests.
"He's going to be a great inclusion so it's going to be great to play alongside him and it will definitely help the defence, I guess," Schoenmakers said on Sunday.
Not that Schoenmakers is completely handballing the responsibility to play on big forwards to others.
At just 22 and fitter and stronger than he has been before he remains confident he can play as a key defender who can keep the game's best forwards quiet when that is required.
"I'm pretty happy to challenge them now and I'm ready to go, so I'm looking forward to the challenge," Schoenmakers said.
With the Hawks appearing to signal an early intent to be less predictable in 2013, having Lake (along with Jarryd Roughead and Luke Hodge occasionally) able to play in defence may just give them the capacity to throw a defender forward from time to time.
That might give Schoenmakers some stress relief after playing most of his first 60 games under fierce pressure in defence.
Not that the coach has ever shown much of an inclination to spare Schoenmakers from worry.
"I'm not really sure what 'Clarko' [Alastair Clarkson] has planned," Schoenmakers said.
"I had a bit of a run up there [forward] in the NAB Cup so that was good fun, but I'm not really sure what he has got planned for this season."
Although Schoenmakers played as a forward when he was young, he is not getting too excited about the prospect of adding to his career tally of five goals in 2013.
He really doesn't expect his role to change too much.
"[I'd] just like to lock down a few forwards and get a bit of a kick," he said.
They are simple yet realistic goals for the 22-year-old who has improved each year even though he has been fighting out of his weight division.
If he can improve further, the Hawks now have defenders to shape their short and long-term futures around.
Ryan Schoenmakers is a defender in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 57.05 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy hub.