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Hawthorn bracing for AFL ruck headaches

Sam Mitchell admits Hawthorn will have to get seriously creative as they face a ruck crisis for their AFL clash with Gold Coast.

Big man Max Lynch will miss Saturday night’s game against the Suns in Darwin after being concussed during the Hawks’ upset of the Brisbane Lions.

Fellow ruck Ned Reeves is an outside chance to travel to the top end but has not played since dislocating his shoulder against Geelong in round five.

Mitchell concedes Hawthorn will be up against it in the ruck department with Gold Coast co-captain Jarrod Witts one of the AFL’s leading big men.

The first-year coach floated Irish utility Conor Nash and fringe midfielder Daniel Howe as options to battle Witts.

“I’m actually quite excited by that prospect,” Mitchell told reporters on Wednesday.

“It will make us quite hard to scout.

“(The Suns) won’t know who we’re rucking and what type of player or whether we just try and get them for run around the ground.

We’ve got some creative ideas in the back of our minds if Ned doesn’t come up.

“(Jack Frost) told me that he has played as a second ruck for a couple of games at Melbourne.

“That’s one we hadn’t thought of so there are a couple of ideas.”

Hawthorn broke a four-game losing streak by downing the Lions but the challenge now will be backing up such a triumphant result.

The Hawks have been able to get themselves up for the best teams but were overrun by a struggling Essendon team in round eight.

Hawthorn are preparing for a tough contest at Darwin’s TIO Stadium, even training with footballs dipped in dishwashing liquid to adjust to the expected slippery and dewy conditions.

Mitchell said he had reached out to former star teammate Cyril Rioli ahead of Hawthorn’s arrival in the Northern Territory.

Rioli has been living in Darwin since his sudden exit from the AFL in 2018 and has spoken out about wanting nothing to do with the club he won four premierships with as long as Jeff Kennett remains president.

The club has an open invitation for Rioli to attend the game this weekend.

“I probably am more focused on (catching up as former teammates),” Mitchell said.

“What he is thinking and feeling with the club on a big picture, that’s up to him.”

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