Mon September 24, 2012 12:00am
HAWTHORN is adamant its captain Luke Hodge will be healthy enough to play in Saturday's grand final against Sydney despite being quarantined from his teammates because of illness.
Hodge, 28, who won the Norm Smith Medal for best afield in the Hawks' premiership win over Geelong in 2008, was a shock withdrawal from the preliminary final side that beat Adelaide by just five points.
Complicating matters in a week of likely selection intrigue at Waverley Park is the fact Hodge's wife, Lauren, is due to give birth this week. But the Hawks skipper has assured teammates he will be at the MCG on Saturday, spearhead Lance Franklin said yesterday. "He's got the bug. He's not in this morning, but he'll be fine," Franklin said.
"I don't think anyone would want to miss a grand final, so Hodgey will get himself right and get himself up for this weekend.
"It's lucky we were able to get over the line for him because I think he would have been a little bit disappointed to miss out."
The man who replaced Hodge, defender Tom Murphy, yesterday acknowledged he was the player under the most pressure to hold his spot in the grand final team.
"It's the elephant in the room in a way, but the other thing is that there's not really much I can control now," he said.
"It's up to the coaches to pick the team and there's probably 27 or 28 blokes who can legitimately make a claim to play. I've been emergency a stack of times this season and every now and then something pops up, so I just prepare as if I'm playing.
"Sometimes the footy gods decide and I got the call (on Saturday). Obviously we missed Hodgey, his leadership and that sort of stuff, he'll be back this week."