HAWTHORN great David Parkin came away from Subiaco last Saturday night convinced that his old team face a daunting challenge in Saturday's Grand Final.
The Hawks premiership captain and coach still tips them to win, but Fremantle's imposing preliminary final win over Sydney thoroughly impressed him.
"It's a manic pressure we've never seen applied with or without the ball by any team in the history of the game," said Parkin, one of the best coaches in the game's history.
"I'm not saying Hawthorn can't win ... don't worry about that, Hawthorn are in with a very good chance because of the credentials they bring.
"But it will be probably the most difficult task they face at least for this season."
Parkin added that Fremantle under coach Ross Lyon have developed to the point where their game style works regardless of the venue.
"They've shown whether it's ... the MCG or wherever they play, they have the capacity," he said.
"They're so well-drilled to make the right decisions at the moment, all the time.
"They're exceptionally well-coached.
"I've never seen another coach be able to get a team so completely committed to the method of play."
Parkin relayed his observations to club president Andrew Newbold when they spoke privately before a Wednesday club luncheon in the Melbourne CBD.
Newbold later told the audience that the widespread praise for the Dockers suited his club and had not gone unnoticed.
"He (Parkin) is full of Freo, as is all of the media, and we're quite happy with that actually," Newbold said.
"I heard Ross Lyon saying Fremantle would ask serious questions of Hawthorn and Hawthorn would ask serious questions of Fremantle.
"We're actually a serious football club and we welcome the serious questions.
"We're under no misunderstanding at our club about the challenge that is in front of us."
Parkin said one of Hawthorn's strengths in the grand final would be their player leadership group.
He said Geelong's on-field leaders were found wanting in the dramatic closing stages of the preliminary final last Friday night, which Hawthorn won by five points.
"We have an effective leadership group on the field.
"That's one of the major advantages we have this weekend."In fact, Geelong fell apart in the finish last weekend because their leadership group on the ground did not take over and do what that team needed to do, whereas ours did."