Hawthorn have been hit with a series of injuries to their ruckmen that has left the club without a central tall for their Round 11 clash against Gold Coast in Darwin on Saturday night.
Hawthorn ruck Max Lynch entered concussion protocols following the win against the Lions on Sunday, and with Ben McEvoy out with a neck injury and Ned Reeves yet to prove his fitness from a shoulder injury, Hawthorn face the uphill battle of coming up against in-form Suns ruckman Jarrod Witts without a recognised ruckman of their own.
Reeves, however, has not been ruled out of the Suns clash as he trained with the main group Wednesday morning, but still needs to prove his fitness from the dislocated shoulder he suffered in the Easter Monday clash against Geelong.
Hawthorn head coach Sam Mitchell pondered potential solutions to their ruck dilemma whilst addressing the media at Waverley Park on Wednesday, almost embracing the situation that the Hawks find themselves in.
"He is some chance, so we'll give him another day and do a fitness test with him tomorrow and see how that goes. Have you got any ideas? It's going to be an interesting one in the ruck if he's unavailable," Mitchell said regarding Ned Reeves' status for Saturday's game.
"I'm actually quite excited by that prospect, we'll have to do something different. It will make us quite hard to scout. They 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.
"As a whole match committee, we sit in our room up there and throw the magnets around and discuss what we want to do. We've already tried Conor Nash in the ruck. Someone like Daniel Howe could play in there. Frosty (Sam Frost) told me this morning that he has played as a second ruck for a couple of games at Melbourne. That's one we hadn’t thought of. There are a couple of ideas. Jacob Koschitzke has played in there at different stages.
"You're not probably going to win. Witts is a really big, strong ruckman, so we're probably not going to win the hit-out but can we still win that part of the game without winning the hit-outs."
Mitchell was sympathetic of Max Lynch, who has endured a difficult run of injury and illness since coming across from Collingwood at the end of last season for more opportunities.
"He is in a pretty good headspace. He is not feeling great I don’t think, still going through his concussion protocols. He's had a really rough run. I keep talking to him about looking at the big picture. He had a concussion earlier in the year and in his mind it was this huge deal," Mitchell said.
"He is going to get back from this and he's going to be a really important player for us later on this season. We look forward to getting him back for the long term because he has had enough bad luck to last him a couple of years."
Defender Will Day is another player that still has to prove his fitness after being subbed out of Sunday's game with an ankle injury, and will get every chance to prove his health for the trip up north.
Hawthorn will look to back up their strong win against the Lions, when they face the Gold Coast Suns at TIO Stadium in Darwin as apart of Sir Doug Nicholls Round.