Posted: 23 July, 2014
Hawthorn star describes Swans clash as most important of 2014
(Image: AFL Media)
There are many reasons for Hawthorn to be motivated for Saturday night's Beyond Blue Cup blockbuster against Sydney.
Found wanting in too many meetings with flag contenders this season - think Sydney, Port Adelaide and Geelong - beating the Swans at the MCG would certainly affirm their premiership credentials.
In a tight race for home finals, wins on the board will be crucial - especially seeing as Hawthorn have the toughest draw of their rivals.
The first return of two-time premiership forward Lance Franklin against his old side in Melbourne might lift some, though it's more likely to pump up the crowd.
The Hawks too have reason to lift within their ranks, with their own power forward Jarryd Roughead celebrating his 200th game.
And there's no doubt the 2012 grand final loss still rankles the Hawks, who were warm favourites to win that match.
With so much to play for, what's driving Shaun Burgoyne?
"It is one of the games you get yourself up for," he said.
"There's no more important game than this week."
But rather than talking tough, the dynamic all-position player meant to downplay the clash - saying it was just another step on the path to September.
"We're just looking at it as another game preparing for the finals," he said.
"We know it's going to be very tough ... they're on top of the ladder so they're doing something right."
Despite their lofty ladder position, Burgoyne stepped away from the suggestion that Sydney, with 12 straight wins coming into the match, was the team to beat to win the flag.
"I don't know about the premiership, there's probably any number of teams, the top seven or eight on their best day can beat anyone," he said.
"It doesn't matter where you sit on the ladder, you've got to bring your ‘A game’, your intensity or you'll get knocked off."
As a two-club player himself, Burgoyne said he hoped Hawthorn fans would treat Franklin with respect on his first game at the MCG playing against the brown and gold.
"He's done a lot for our footy club over nine years," he said.
"I changed clubs as well so I know exactly what he's going through.”
"We're expecting him to play well but when the siren sounds he will be just another player out there."
Burgoyne said all signs were positive that Josh Gibson would return for the match, 11 weeks after he tore a pectoral muscle in Sydney's defeat of the Hawks at ANZ Stadium.
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