Parkin hails Lyon and warns Hawthorn to expect toughest test all season

Fremantle are clearly the most difficult opponents Hawthorn will face this season and Ross Lyon is a mastermind, according to legendary coach David Parkin.

”’I’m not saying Hawthorn can’t win … but it will probably be the most difficult task they’ve faced at least for this season,” he said. ”I just think it’s a manic pressure we’ve never seen applied, with and without the ball, by any team in the history of the game.”

Parkin, a four-time premiership coach, disputed the theory the Dockers’ effectiveness could be undermined by playing at the wide MCG, a venue they have played at only twice this year, which includes a 27-point loss to Richmond.

”I don’t think it matters. I think they’ve shown, Fremantle, whether it’s long and narrow as Geelong, or Subiaco, or whether it’s the MCG or wherever they play, they have the capacity, because it’s so well drilled, to make the right decisions … all the time,” he said.

”They’re just exceptionally well coached. I’ve never seen another coach be able to get a team so completely committed to the method of play. They’ve probably got one player only who doesn’t win his own ball and one very tall player who probably can’t pressure like the small blokes do, but the rest of them are totally and utterly committed to that method.”

Lyon, 46, ranks 34th for games coached, 27th for finals coached and is not among the 50 coaches to have led their team to a premiership. Nevertheless he has already done enough at the helm of St Kilda and, now, Fremantle to be rated by Parkin as one of the leaders in all three categories.

While Lyon has only once snared the AFL Coaches’ Association’s top award in his seven seasons as a senior coach, in 2009, association president Parkin said it was ”indisputable” Lyon was already a great, at least among recent coaches.

While Parkin said his praise of Lyon was not a slight on Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson – ”he’s been able to change and go with the game like few others have” – he said Lyon’s stocks were helped by him having ”taught another group to play the same method within a short [period], two years, and [have them be] absolutely committed to it”.

Hawks president Andrew Newbold, joined by Parkin in addressing the club’s grand final lunch on Wednesday, said he was not perturbed that Parkin and many others had been lauding the Dockers rather than the ladder-leading Hawks.

”Human nature remembers the last event and … Fremantle on Saturday were very impressive. It was hard not to be impressed with that. I watched that and thought, ‘Gee, they’re a good side’, but it’s not really about accolades … we’re about putting our best foot forward on Saturday,” Newbold said.

”We know that they’re a fantastic defensive-pressure side and we’re looking forward to actually challenging ourselves and asking a few questions of Freo as well. I think we’ve got the best forward line in the competition so let them worry about a few of our blokes as well.”

Twitter – @Jesse_Hogan

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