There’ll be plenty of nostalgia in the air as Luke Hodge makes his final Launceston appearance on Sunday, but Kangaroos defender Luke McDonald isn’t losing any sleep about whether the champion has a happy send-off.
As Hawthorn and North Melbourne prepare to spend September on the sidelines, both sides have their sights set on season 2018 – a challenge the Hawks will undertake without their general of the past two decades.
“He’s always been a role model looking from afar, I’ve always loved the way he goes about it so I suppose it’s sad in a sense he’s finishing up,” McDonald said of the former Hawks captain.
“He’s had an almighty career and I’m really lucky to be playing against him in ones of his last games - but hopefully it’s not a very memorable one for him.”
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McDonald has played every game this year, averaging 20 disposals a game in what has been his most consistent season to date.
Having the spent the majority of his career running off half-back, the 22-year-old has moved up the ground in the past few weeks as North look to fast-track their growth in a lean season.
McDonald, who will be playing at UTAS Stadium for the first time since the 2014 pre-season, said he was expecting a bruising contest on Sunday despite both teams being out of finals contention.
“They’re massively important these last few games.
“It’s really important in these few games to set up for the pre-season and set up next year, you really want to gather some momentum over the last few games and build some confidence into younger players.”
The Hawks have omitted veteran Brendan Whitecross to make way for Hodge’s return from suspension, while North have recalled Jy Simpkin and Kayne Turner at the expense of teenagers Josh Williams Nick Larkey.
Tasmanian spearhead Ben Brown has been named at full-forward for North Melbourne despite being stretchered off the ground in the Roos’ loss to Collingwood last weekend.
McDonald said the Coleman Medal chance was “more likely than unlikely” to line up on Sunday.
“I spoke to him (on Thursday) and he said he’s pulled up really well from the head knock, he’s obviously the king of Tassie so he really wants to play.
“He’s obviously a massively important player for us… hopefully he plays but if he doesn’t play it just gives another person an opportunity so we’ll just wait and see.”
WHAT: Round 21 Hawthorn v North Melbourne
WHEN: Sunday, 3.20pm
WHERE: UTAS Stadium
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