Hawks are playing to win, says coach Mitchell
Hawthorn consider their AFL clash with West Coast as a chance to make real progress, with coach Sam Mitchell brushing aside talk of the "Harley Reid Cup".
Sunday's match in Launceston between the cellar-dwellers is dubbed a pointer to who will finish last on the ladder and get Reid, the likely No.1 draft pick.
Mitchell, who has recovered from COVID-19 that kept him away from the club through the week, said his team were desperate to bank a second win for the season.
"It's the media's job to come up with narratives and stories," Mitchell said on Thursday.
"I'm not all over the recruiting this time of year, it's something we get into later in the year.
"What we're trying to do is build a premiership team, and that's not built off trying to lose games.
"You need players who are desperate to win at every opportunity and are going to try to play in a way that is going to be sustainable in finals footy, and we're building towards that.
"This week's another step in that direction and we hope that we can make real progress.
"We know that they've got a pretty significant injury list and they're in a similar position on the ladder to us, so it's a chance to get a win."
While the Eagles have a horror injury toll, with 13 players currently unavailable for selection, the Hawks will be without Chad Wingard with a calf problem.
Defender Changkuoth Jiath is also set to miss with his own calf complaint, while ruckman Ned Reeves (ankle) is expected to return after being a late withdrawal last round.
Mitchell agreed it had been a frustrating year for two-time All-Australian forward Wingard.
"He (Wingard) knows that his form line is not what it should be for a player of his calibre," the coach said.
"Like every player on the list, they need to continue to work and get the best out of themselves, and he is no different to anyone else."
Mitchell said Hawthorn would take a conservative approach with exciting teenage midfielder Josh Ward, with bone stress issue detected in his foot, while ruckman Max Lynch has been moved to the long-term injury list as he recovers from concussion.
The 24-year-old was substituted out of the round-six clash with Adelaide and has now been ruled out for the remainder of 2023.
Lynch has reportedly had nine concussions over his career.
"We have adopted an incredibly cautious approach with Max's recovery timeline given his concussion history and this move affords him the best chance to return to full health," Hawthorn head doctor Liam West said.
"While we've seen some good improvement from Max and he had resumed gentle exercise, our focus is fully centred around him becoming symptom-free.
"Max is 100 per cent on board with this decision and by removing the pressures of attempting to progress through the return-to-play protocol, it provides great comfort for him and his family."