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The first of two unfurlings of the premiership flag for the Hawks at a venue they adore, having won 29 of 40 all up and their last seven on the trot.
It shapes as a daunting coaching debut for new Lions boss Justin Leppitsch against the Hawks, whose pre-season form was scintillating. The Lions’ best hope of springing an upset will be to get on top in the midfield and dominate the inside 50s, because the Hawks look depleted down back with several big names missing.
A point of interest will be how the Hawks structure up without Lance Franklin, although they have fared well without him in the past.
Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn) – This season is the time for Roughead to step outside of Lance Franklin’s shadow.
Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn) – Given their strength across the ground, Mitchell spent time running off half-back in 2013. But no matter where he pops up he has an impact on the game.
Ben McEvoy (Hawthorn) – Will make a perfect fit to the side if he can make good first use of the football the Hawks’ exciting midfield.
Matthew Leuenberger (Brisbane) – Big, skilled and talented, Leuenberger shapes as one of the Lions’ most important players if they are to keep up with the better sides in the comp.
Daniel Rich (Brisbane) His left-boot can turn the tide of a game and as he gets close to 100 games in the AFL he is becoming more consistent for the Lions.
1. Hawthorn and the Lions met just once in 2013, with the Hawks comfortable winners by 58 points in round 14 at Aurora Stadium; Jarryd Roughead picked up the three Brownlow votes with four goals.
2. The Hawks were ranked first in 2013 for fewest disposals per goals with 22.6 compared to the Lions, who ranked 13th with 27.3.
3. Hawthorn has dominated the Lions recently, winning the last four matches by 75, 42, 65 and 58 points. The Lions’ last win over the Hawks was in round 12, 2009.
4. No team gave away more free kicks in 2013 than the Lions, with 464. Hawthorn was seventh, giving away 456 after the finals.
5. The Hawks were ranked first in 2013 for marks inside 50, with an average of 15 per game; the Lions were 16th with just 10 per game.
6. Franklin’s departure from the Hawks means the defending champs no longer have a player listed in the top 10 of the Official AFL Player Rankings. Cyril Rioli comes in at no.11 but he won’t play this week because of suspension.