SAM MITCHELL says Hawthorn will enter Saturday's Grand Final against the Sydney Swans as deserving underdogs given his team’s performance against Port Adelaide on the weekend.
Mitchell said the Swans - who he rated as the League’s best team across the entire season - deserved favouritism status after they demolished North Melbourne in the other preliminary final.
However, he still believed the Hawks could triumph and win back-to-back flags if they managed to play their best.
"We watched Sydney on Friday night and thought, 'Wow, that was pretty impressive'," Mitchell said on Tuesday morning.
"They probably watched us on Saturday afternoon and said ‘that wasn't their best game of footy’.
"This week's going to be very different to the weekend gone, we're playing different opponents with different atmosphere - it's a completely different game.
"We're underdogs as far as everyone thinks, and that's probably rightly so, they deserve to be the favourites.
"They've been the best team all year, they've lost two games in 20 or something so they've played very good footy but we think our best can beat them."
Speculation remains that Cyril Rioli may dislodge one of Hawthorn's preliminary final players after successfully returning from a hamstring tendon injury in the VFL Grand Final on Sunday.
Mitchell couldn't offer any insight into Rioli's status but admitted it would be tough to leave him out.
"It's not about absolutely firing. For Cyril, it's not about getting best on ground or kicking five goals or setting up five goals," he said. “It's about whether or not we think he can play his role.”
"That's the decision and I'm very, very thankful it's not mine because it would be very difficult to leave Cyril out of a Grand Final. But it's going to come down to a honest conversation, and for anyone that knows Cyril, he'd be the first to put his hand up and say he's not ready.
"If he says he is, it's a decision to make for the match committee, and if he can play his role to a level that's better than whoever he replaces, he plays."
After commending Brad Sewell for the way the veteran midfielder has stayed involved in team meetings and game preparation after being omitted last week,
Mitchell said Sewell could be called upon to meet the big-bodied Swans.Mitchell said there were always hard luck stories when it came to players missing, especially given the Hawks still had 30 players training.
"It's part of finals footy. You look at Ben McEvoy and he's played four best on grounds in a row in the VFL and still hasn't had a look in," he said.
"In any squad there's real depth if you get this far. It's not like 22 players get you to a Grand Final.
"We had 18 players get a vote in the Brownlow last night, which was by far the most."If we have 18 players capable of getting a Brownlow vote, some of them won't be playing.
"We have very good depth in our squad and there's going to be a sad story for someone on the weekend."
Mitchell said Jordan Lewis' corked thigh was "not too much of a big deal" and that the midfielder was more embarrassed than anything at the amount of attention it had received since Saturday's game.
"You get knocks like that fairly regularly in footy and no one really notices or cares for much of the year, but there are only two teams to be interested in at the moment," he said."He'll certainly train on Thursday and he'll be fine I'm sure."