AAP AFL

Hawks pitch rookie into AFL finals action

By AAP Newswire

Hawthorn will pitch 27-year-old David Mirra into AFL finals action for the first time in a bid to cover the loss of two key players for Friday night's semi-final against Melbourne.

The Hawks lost Ben Stratton (hamstring) and Jaeger O'Meara (knee) while dropping Jon Ceglar for the knockout final against an unchanged Demons side.

Mirra comes into the Hawthorn side along with Ryan Schoenmakers and Taylor Duryea.

Mirra was initially put on the Hawks' rookie list this year after seven seasons playing for the club's VFL affiliate Box Hill.

He has played just six AFL games, and only one of the past 13, but will likely take Stratton's defensive slot with Duryea into the midfield mix to replace O'Meara.

"Unfortunately Jaeger sustained a knock to his left knee during last week's match," Hawthorn's football manager Graham Wright said.

"We gave him every opportunity to get himself right for the semi-final but he just hasn't pulled up in time.

"He's an important player so it's certainly disappointing."

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin kept the faith in his team which thrashed Geelong in an elimination final last week.

"The guys put in a terrific performance and everyone contributed in their roles and what they wanted to do, so it gives us great confidence to put the same 22," he said.

Goodwin lauded the win against Geelong in his club's first finals game in a dozen years but demanded his players repeat the feat against the Hawks.

"It was an incredible match last week ... for the players to play with that intensity, desire, will and want in the game was unbelievable," he said.

"(But) it's a huge test against the Hawks.

"We have got huge respect for them and they've been a club that's had great character over many years now and we certainly know they're going to respond (to their loss).

"But our boys are in really good shape and we feel like our game style and our system and our players are performing their roles incredibly well."