Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson showed you can teach an old-timer new tricks by employing Shaun Burgoyne as a stopper – just don’t expect to see the tactic every week.
Burgoyne was sent to keep a close watch on Richmond superstar Dustin Martin in their clash at the MCG on Sunday in a move that surprised the reigning premiers.
And while Martin still managed 28 disposals and a goal to be a valuable contributor in the Tigers’ 29-point win, Clarkson took satisfaction in his 38-year-old veteran’s performance.
“We recognise that they play the game with waves and forward handballs and overlap, and I didn’t feel like they were able to play their normal type of game,” Clarkson said.
“Shaun being on Dustin was an important part of that for us.
“Dustin got a goal from a centre bounce and didn’t play poorly by any stretch, he was still a contributor for the Richmond side.
“But I don’t think it was your typical Dustin game where you came out of it saying he was clearly best on ground. That was pleasing for us.”
Burgoyne was encouraged to play on into his 20th season this year and is within sight of becoming the just the fifth player in VFL/AFL history to reach 400 games.
Clarkson said the four-time premiership player’s new stopping role would be used on a “horses for courses” basis this year.
“Shaun’s obvisouly in the twilight of his career and if you’ve got to play an enormous amount of midfield – and that’s where most of the time you do most of your stopping roles from – if he’s got to do that on a regular basis I think that would be unlikely, but we’ll just wait and see,” Clarkson said.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick admitted he was caught off-guard by the Burgoyne defensive ploy by his close friend and former coaching mentor Clarkson.
“We didn’t see it coming obviously but I thought Dustin was terriffic once again,” Hardwick said.
“He had a number of score involvements and probably gave off a couple of goals where we’d probably prefer him to have a shot next time.
“But I thought Dustin had a great game and Shaun’s such a fantastic competitor and you don’t want to allow him to roam free.
“It was a good match-up.”