hawthornfc.com.au sat down with recruit Brian Lake as he opens up about his time at the Bulldogs and his decision to play for Hawthorn in 2013 and beyond. The interview will be released in two parts over two days.
Kate Salemme: You had that troublesome year with injury and there was speculation about your future but you decided to stay at the Bulldogs. Why did you decide to make the move at the end of 2012?
Brian Lake: After that terrible year, I guess your value to other sides decreases and we had a change of coach who was very happy to keep me there (the Bulldogs). For me, it’s to prove a lot of people wrong, they had written me off saying my body was shot and my knee was horrendous. Going into pre-season in early September 2011, the extra surgery made a massive difference to the year I had.
Personal motivation, to prove people wrong but also to get back to the football I played previous to the injury was a major factor as well.
KS: Did you think at the end of 2011 that some might have perceived you were running away from something had you left the Bulldogs at the end of 2011?
BL: There were a lot of issues that went through that year as well with Rocket (Rodney Eade) leaving and staff changing over as well – new coaches and assistant coaches came in. They had a plan, and that included me for 2012. Macca (Bulldogs Coach Brendon McCartney) and I had a discussion, he was keen for me to stay and he saw a future for me at the club.
Things have changed now with the way that club is heading, with the youth and the restructure of the backline. For me, it was planned to play a bit more forward in 2013 for the Bulldogs.
I saw it as a perfect fit, at my age now, I don’t know how much time I would have had at the Bulldogs to move on and hunt down that elusive flag that everyone dreams of having.
KS: Alastair Clarkson mentioned the Hawks had been chasing you for a few years, was there any other club that appealed to you?
BL: A lot didn’t go through me, it went through my manager Marty Pask who worked really closely with Graham Wright (the Club’s Recruiting and List Manager). He spoke to him about the option of moving and me coming to Hawthorn, but I hadn’t been aware of that because I was away on holiday with my family. I didn’t find out until I came back to Australia that there was some interest for me to move on from the Bulldogs.
Marty and Graham worked their butts off and behind-the-scenes, tried to nut something out with the Bulldogs. It all happened really quickly after Grand Final week, the week after that, it just went crazy.
KS: Did you think when you were watching the Hawks in the Grand Final you were going to be teammates with these guys only a few weeks later?
BL: It was a little bit weird, I had a bit of an inkling then that the option was there to be playing for Hawthorn next year. I did focus a little bit more on Hawthorn than on Sydney and the game.
There is a lot of work to do though, a different way of playing, 45 new players, coaches, staff and supporters as well to meet.
KS: What did you see of Hawthorn in the Grand Final, what impressed you about the game and throughout the year?
BL: The ability to use the ball by foot (impressed me). With a lot of left footers in the side, I’m probably a little bit different than the norm because the Club likes to bring in left footers.
I saw a lot of things I liked – the dangerous forward line that we have with Buddy, Roughie and Cyril down there. But also the midfield who are able to go both ways, attacking and defence. Even the backline is a very even set up down there where guys like to come third-man in and support.
Also the ball disposal is going to make my job a lot easier.
KS: You’re a pretty good kick yourself, so you’ll be able to slot in there nicely?
BL: I probably put a little bit of pressure on myself at the Bulldogs, when you’ve got a lot of young guys around you, you probably take more responsibility on yourself. For me now, it’s just going back to the basics of football, I don’t have to try and hit the hard kick all the time because I’ve got Matt Suckling and Grant Birchall right next to me to use the ball. I don’t need to be doing anything fancy.
KS: Now that you are surrounded by Birchall, Suckling and Josh Gibson is a pretty good disposer of the ball as well, is there much of an adjustment for you?
BL: There’s going to be a bit there, just going through the way the Hawks play. There’s a lot I’ve got to learn, no doubt there’s going to be a lot of video and analysis to do to understand their strengths and weaknesses as well. You go up against them in games and you think you know what they’re good at and what they’re not but for me now, I need to learn as much about these guys as possible.
Stay tuned for part two of the Brian Lake interview to be released on Saturday.