MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 07: Finn Maginness of the Hawks wins the club 2km time trial during a Hawthorn Hawks AFL pre-season training session at Waverley Park on December 07, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Hawthorn will call on defensive-minded midfielder Finn Maginness to shut down Brownlow favourite Nick Daicos this weekend as Sam Mitchell plans to get the upper hand over ladder leaders Collingwood through the middle of the ground.

The Hawks are yet to face the Magpies this season, with Mitchell excited for his emerging midfield ensemble to be challenged by one of the premier teams of the competition at the MCG.

Hawthorn has struggled through periods of this year due to form and injury, with Mitchell highlighting the lack of "continuity" in the centre as a weakness in their campaign.

Having chopped and changed their starting midfield unit on several occasions while also looking to find their standout ruck option, Mitchell is hoping the Magpies won't find the midfield tussle as easy as they have in recent encounters.

"Some continuity with the mids has been a bit of a challenge for us," Mitchell told media on Thursday.

"We haven't quite been able to get that mix right all year with the rucks, midfielders and that second tall forward position.

"I think centre bounces have been such a vital part of the game this year. Every club when they're able to consolidate their territory are much more likely to perform well. We know that Collingwood are going to be really strong in that area.

"They've given us a touch-up at centres bounces in pre-season this year and in the game last year, so we've got a bit of work to do to make sure we get some territory in the early phases."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 25: Nick Daicos of the Magpies gathers the ball during the round six AFL match between Collingwood Magpies and Essendon Bombers at Melbourne Cricket Ground, on April 25, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

An "obvious" manoeuvre for Mitchell this week will be deploying Maginness in a run-with role on Daicos, who leads the league for disposals this year as one of the most impactful players on the premiership race.

Maginness has successfully negated the likes of Daniel Rioli, Josh Kelly, Harry Sheezel and Jack Sinclair in recent weeks and already has a solid record against his next potential scalp in Daicos.

During a pre-season hitout, Maginness was able to limit the young Magpies star to 17 possessions and will be looking to do the same again this week.

"It's pretty obvious he's going to go to Daicos, isn't it?" Mitchell said, confirming his young onballer will tag the Collingwood young gun.

"We've got to try and find a way to make that work, and he'll go to Daicos and see if he can quell him. (Daicos) has had such a fantastic season as such a genuine match-winner and he's involved in so much of their play.

"That means it's going to free up somebody else for them and we need to find a way to make it work, but they've got so many talented players. It's not to say that (Maginness) will go on (Daicos) for the whole game."

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 07: Finn Maginness of the Hawks wins the club 2km time trial during a Hawthorn Hawks AFL pre-season training session at Waverley Park on December 07, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Maginness is among as many as 14 Hawks yet to earn contracts for next season, with the final month of the home and away campaign potentially deciding their fate.

When questioned on where the club's list sits heading into the final month, Mitchell said it is an intriguing period for all clubs as they look to work on their lists for the future.

"I think every club is in the same situation," the Hawks coach said.

"Contracts always come down to the last (second) and list spots are really tight at the moment.

"Like most clubs, you spend the last four weeks of your season looking at contracts for next year and beyond on who you might be keeping and who might be fighting for the last couple of spots.

"Contracts aren't my area but I think most clubs have around a quarter of their list who is uncontracted."

Hawthorn are unlikely to have wingman Karl Amon for their matchup with the Magpies due to an ongoing knee injury, with Mitchell confirming the club's free agency recruit hasn't been able to train at full capacity this week.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 10: James Blanck of the Hawks is chased by Reilly O'Brien of the Crows during the 2022 AFL Round 17 match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Adelaide Crows at Marvel Stadium on July 10, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Amon is likely to join key defender Sam Frost (foot) in missing this week's action, while the Hawks will need to wait another week to know if dashing defender Changkuoth Jiath will pay again this year.

After being the tactical sub last week against St Kilda defender James Blanck will take Frost's place, while Round 20 debutant and mid-season recruit Brandon will make his second appearance for the Hawks at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.

 2023-08-05T06:35:00Z 
Hawthorn WON BY 32 POINTS
MCG
HAW   
105
FT
73
   COLL