Hawthorn’s best football is yet to come this year, Alastair Clarkson says

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The competition may be catching up on Hawthorn, coach Alastair Clarkson says , but the team’s best football is ahead of them in 2016.

The reigning premiers lost to Greater Western Sydney on the weekend by a whopping 75 points, prompting a new round of speculation that the downfall of the mighty Hawks had begun.

But Clarkson said his players had a good record of bouncing back well after a loss and would be looking to regain confidence by starting well against Richmond on Friday night.

“The six-day break is good for us; we can’t wait to get back into it,” he said.

Although the Hawks were not thrilled with their form, they had still managed four wins and two losses for the season.

“We’ve played some bloody good sides in the first half of the year, there would be many sides that are pretty happy being four and two,” he said. “Beating the Bulldogs is a pretty good effort, beating Adelaide was a pretty good effort.

“St Kilda are no slouches anymore and beating West Coast by a good margin is a pretty good effort.”

Clarkson said he did not take much notice of critics, some of whom were suggesting Hawthorn would not win a fourth consecutive grand final.

At the same time last year Hawthorn had three wins and three losses and went on to take out the premiership.

“We don’t want to dig a hole and put our head in the sand and not think the competition’s catching up to us a bit,” he said. “But we think our best footy’s ahead of us this year.”

Clarkson said captain Luke Hodge  would not play for at least four weeks while be recovers from a knee injury – a significant loss for Hawthorn.

“But we’ve had plenty of occasions before where we’ve lost players and we replaced them, and we’ll do so again,” he said.

Jarryd Roughead’s recovery from a knee injury was progressing well, Clarkson said, with the 29-year-old back training this week.

“Hopefully, with a bit of ball work over the next couple of weeks he’ll get himself right and be available to play in the next month or so,” he said.

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