Ex-Hawks star Paul Salmon says he’s right behind his former club in Saturday’s AFL grand final against Sydney and says David Hale will be a key player.
As a former star player at Essendon and Hawthorn, Paul Salmon doesn’t like to be backed into a corner and forced to choose one club over the other.
Both clubs will be in his thoughts this week, but for vastly different reasons.
Mixed loyalties won’t be a problem for the big “Fish” in Saturday’s AFL grand final when defending premiers Hawthorn take on Sydney at the MCG.
“Certainly this weekend I’m all over Hawthorn. I love the Hawks dearly,” Salmon told AAP on Wednesday.
“I have a great affection for the Bombers too.
“I was just a very lucky man to have played for two great clubs and I never like to choose if I can help it.”
Salmon played in Essendon’s 1985 and 1993 premiership sides and is a member of Hawthorn’s team of the century.
The former towering ruckman says Hawthorn’s David Hale has the chance to stamp his authority on Sydney’s Mike Pyke on Saturday.
“We know historically big men very often have a big say in the outcome of grand finals,” Salmon said.
“It’s going to be a very critical component to the game.
“David Hale’s good because any good big man will always ask questions of his opponent.
“If you’re very good at choosing the right time to push forward then you’ve got your opponent watchful and considering your moves all the time.
“You don’t want at any stage in a grand final to have your opponent thinking it’s on their terms.”
Recent history throws up names such as triple-premiership players Clark Keating (Brisbane 2001-02-03) and Brad Ottens (Geelong 2007-09-11) as examples of the important roles ruckmen can play in winning flags.
Hawthorn are considering dropping ruckman Jonathon Ceglar and partnering Hale with Ben McEvoy.
“I think Ben McEvoy’s in the mix,” Salmon said.
“It’s a nice problem for the Hawks to have.”
Salmon’s thoughts are also with Essendon’s 34 past and present players who are facing possible doping bans from ASADA.
“The players would probably like to see a conclusion to it as soon as possible,” Salmon said.
“This is a very complex case.
“As an ex-Essendon player, I’m just thinking about the players and their head space and hoping they can move on as soon as possible.
“That’s going to be really important.
“There’s a physical and an emotional element to all of this and it takes its toll.”