A MUCH more competitive opponent in tonight's NAB Challenge match in Launceston is exactly what Hawthorn needs as it continues to build towards round 1.
That's the belief of stand-in coach Brendon Bolton, who will take charge of the Hawks in his home state against North Melbourne at Aurora Stadium tonight.
Bolton said the promise of not having things go their way as easily as in last Thursday's 131-point win over Brisbane would provide the reigning premiers with the solid hit-out they were craving.
``We know the pressure is going to increase, as they've named a pretty good squad with strong players across all lines,'' Bolton said at Hawthorn's training session at Aurora yesterday.
``So we'll just be looking for a good game under real pressure.
``The most important thing is refining our own system, and you need that entering into round 1.
``I think the pressure will increase, as we've both named strong squads, they've got really strong players on all lines.
``Up forward they have [Drew] Petrie, and in the midfield there is [Jack] Ziebell and [Daniel] Wells and those types, so we think the pressure will increase, but we need that, we need a pressured game.''
Bolton believed the full-length contest that the NAB Challenge offers in comparison to the NAB Cup allowed more flexibility and made it easier to manage players' workloads.
The concept also allows more experimentation with team structure.
``We keep a really open mind, we try to play our players through various roles, not just as forwards, mids or backs,'' Bolton said.
``When you do that in the NAB Cup, sometimes things open up and you find something new, so we have nothing in concrete. We just want try them in different roles and see what bobs up in these sorts of games.''
Tasmanian Bolton, who is in charge of the Hawks' forward line, is the second Hawthorn assistant to take the reins from Alastair Clarkson this preseason after Luke Beveridge against the Lions.
The 34-year-old is familiar with Aurora Stadium, having played there as a Northern Bomber.
North Melbourne trained in Melbourne yesterday before flying into Launceston.
WHAT: Hawthorn v North Melbourne in NAB Challenge.
WHEN: Tonight, 7.10pm.
WHERE: Aurora Stadium, Launceston.