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Hawks' game-plan to 'evolve' in bid for fourth flag

Dinny Navaratnam  March 27, 2016 11:16 AM

AFL 2016 Portraits - Hawthorn

Alastair Clarkson says Hawthorn's game-plan will have to evolve in 2016

HAWTHORN'S game-plan will evolve as it bids to claim an historic fourth successive premiership, coach Alastair Clarkson says.

Collingwood is the only team to have accomplished the feat, winning from 1927-30.

The Hawks have long been recognised as being tactically at the forefront of the game, but it will be a different outfit that lines up against Geelong at the MCG on Monday though.

Brian Lake and David Hale have retired, Matthew Suckling went to the Western Bulldogs as a free agent and Jed Anderson was traded to North Melbourne.

The injury list has also been an issue, with premiership players Jarryd Roughead (knee), Brad Hill (wrist) and Liam Shiels (wrist) all missing.

Match preview: Geelong v Hawthorn

"There will be subtle (variations) and that will be simply because of different personnel. Some rule changes as well means you always have to stay on your toes," Clarkson said on Sunday.

"There will be other things that the coaches have looked at that we think we can do a little bit differently. We need to (tinker with the game-plan).

"You've got to try to stay ahead of the game."

Clarkson said some of the game-plan changes were hard to predict, as they would occur later in the year.

"Right at this point in time, I couldn't exactly tell you what (the changes) are going to be, because sometimes they emerge throughout the course of the season."

Jordan Lewis trained freely on Sunday and is set to line up against the Cats.

There will be six changes to the side that won last year's Grand Final, with James Sicily, Jonathon Ceglar, Billy Hartung, Jonathan O'Rourke, Angus Litherland and Will Langford named to play the Cats.

"We'll just have to wait and see (how the new players adapt). We're excited with the crop of players that are coming through. They just need some exposure to week in, week out footy at senior level now," Clarkson said.

"They're going to have their ups and downs, but we'll see how they go over the course of the year."

Clarkson said the threat Geelong midfielder Patrick Dangerfield poses was obvious, but he was wary of focusing too much on one player.

Geelong traded for Dangerfield from Adelaide at the end of last year, giving up its first two draft picks last year and Dean Gore.

Dangerfield, 25, is widely considered as one of the competition's best players and has been named All-Australian three times.