JAMES Sicily had to have a massive influence if Hawthorn was any chance of beating Sydney at the SCG on Friday night.

With his team's already fading finals chances hanging by a thread, Sicily fell well short of his expectations when his team needed him the most.

With captain Ben Stratton out suspended it was expected that coach Alastair Clarkson would abandon his experiment of using Sicily – one of the game's best rebounding defenders – in the forward line but the star backman started in attack for the visitors.

HAWKS FALL SHORT Full match coverage and stats

Things began well when Sicily kicked the Hawks' first goal of the night early in the first quarter, but from there his impact on the contest was non-existent.

It was his only possession of the term and he managed only three in the first half, before finishing with just eight for the night.

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The 24-year-old appeared frustrated and disinterested at times, was aggressive and looking to niggle the Swans, and once again cost him team with some undisciplined play.

Sicily gave away a silly free kick off the ball that took the footy out of the hands of a teammate, just as he was about to pump the ball inside 50 in the opening quarter, and he gave away a match-high four for the night.

The fact that Clarkson refused to switch Sicily to his usual role until the final term seemed a strange decision, but the talented swingman had to make more of a contribution to a team that is struggling for form and screaming out for someone of his quality to show some leadership.

After the match, Clarkson conceded the experiment has failed and it appears likely Sicily will be start in his familiar position down back next week.

"The Sicily move hasn't worked for us in the last two weeks. Do we keep trying that or do we take him back to where he's played his best footy in the last 18 months? We just need to explore that, but we're continuing to try things," Clarkson said.

"That one hasn't worked for us, but it's only been two games."

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He has the ability to be just as effective as a forward as he is as a defender with his outstanding foot skills and brilliant marking, but Sicily's lack of impact against the Swans shows why he can be such a polarising and frustrating player.

There's little doubt that Sicily's best is as good as any player in the competition, but he needs produce it on a weekly basis, show strong leadership and put the team first every time he pulls on the brown and gold jumper.

Until he does that, Sicily will remain an unfulfilled talent.