HAWTHORN star Jordan Lewis says one of the Hawks’ “worst games” was the wake-up call the playing group needed to win a premiership.
The Warrnambool export and his teammates will attempt to deliver Hawthorn its second flag in five years when they take on Sydney at the MCG on Saturday.
The Hawks survived a thrilling preliminary final, kicking a wayward 13.18 to prevail against Adelaide by five points at the MCG on Saturday evening.
The win booked them a spot in Saturday’s showdown against a Swans side which accounted for Collingwood on Friday night. Lewis yesterday began the biggest week of his year, but told The Standard he was attempting to stick to the routine which has served him so well this season.
He said the players had to learn, but move on quickly, from the preliminary final, describing their ball movement as “scratchy” and goalkicking “unacceptable”.
“We played in a preliminary final last year and played our best game of the year and lost, and this year we play one of our worst games and win,” he said.
“You take it for what it is: we’ve won. It’s a great learning curve.”
Lewis declared gun captain Luke Hodge, of Colac, a certain starter after he missed the preliminary final with gastro.
Lewis’ campaign has been one of the key reasons Hawthorn finished as minor premier and took the quickest route to the grand final. The 26-year-old has averaged 22.4 disposals a match — numbers similar to last year — and has become a reliable leader in a midfield laden with talent.
But it was a single, match-winning moment late in the preliminary final which underlined his value to the side.
With the Hawks five points up and clinging to their lead, Lewis dived towards a loose ball that Crow Brent Reilly looked certain to pick up.
His knock-on was to the advantage of Cyril Rioli, who collected and looped a handball to Lance Franklin for the game-sealing goal.
It brought back memories of Matthew Scarlett’s match-winning moment in the 2009 grand final and epitomised how Lewis goes about his football — hard and uncompromising.
“I’ve been thrown around a bit — wing, midfield, forward. I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility. It’s the most consistent year I’ve had,” he said.
“Maybe that’s experience and just being in the game for eight years. You learn little things that get you going.
“Also playing with a group of guys you’ve got confidence, that helps. And there are a lot of other things you don’t realise that are happening.”
Lewis said Hawthorn’s strength this season had been its ability to adapt to the constantly-changing nature of AFL football.
“From ’08 to now there’s a little bit more speed in the team,” he said.
“Guys like (Luke) Bruest and (Paul) Puopolo and (Isaac) Smith have come in and played good football for us.
“The game has changed and in ’08 the personnel suited the game back then. The personnel changes suit the game style of today.”