CLUTCH: Shaun Burgoyne has been given high praise from Hawks teammate Isaac Smith.
CLUTCH: Shaun Burgoyne has been given high praise from Hawks teammate Isaac Smith. Matt King

Shaun one of best, says Hawk teammate

IS Shaun Burgoyne the most "clutch” player in AFL history?

Hawthorn vice-captain Isaac Smith has no doubt about the silken goalkicking utility.

Burgoyne, 34, singled-handedly lifted Hawthorn over a Lance Franklin-powered Sydney last Friday night, kicking two important goals to help the Hawks get over the line at the SCG.

"He's clutch Shauny Burgoyne. Gee he kicks some pretty important goals,” Smith said.

"He'd have to go down as one of the most clutch players in AFL history.

"It's like every time we need him to stand up he just stands up and delivers.”

The four-time premiership star plans to use the second half of the season to weigh up his future.

The Hawks' return to form after sloppy start to the season has coincided with Burgoyne spending more time in the midfield and around stoppages.

"He can play on the biggest power forward in the competition or he can go into the middle and blitz it in there or he can go forward and kick four or five goals,” Smith told RSN 927.

"I think Shaun is of the opinion that he will just keep playing until his body can't play anymore.”

The injection of Burgoyne into the regenerating Hawthorn midfield has resulted in a better team balance, according to Smith.

"I feel like if Shaun had played his whole career in the midfield he would go down as one of the greatest midfielders but he is such a selfless player and he'll play anywhere on the field,” Smith said.

"When you get him going into the centre and you get him around the ball and around a lot of stoppages or contests around the ground he instils a lot of confidence into the players around him.”

HAWTHORN'S scoring power could be boosted for Thursday night's trip to face Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval with the return of key forward Tim O'Brien to the side.

The 23-year-old was enjoying his best season with the Hawks before a hip complaint made him a late withdrawal from the Collingwood game a fortnight ago.

He didn't make it back for the win over the Sydney Swans last Friday, but the Hawks offered a more optimistic outlook in their injury report this week.

Match preview: Port Adelaide v Hawthorn

"The hip has settled down. It's 100 per cent. He's trained the whole week and he'll be available to be selected,” elite performance manager Andrew Russell told hawthornfc,com.au.

O'Brien has provided a strong presence up forward and as a relief ruckman, although the issue now is what his return might mean for Tyrone Vickery, whose outing against the Swans last week was his best game so far for Hawthorn.

Defender Grant Birchall is expected to return against Gold Coast next week with his recovery from a knee injury almost complete, while fellow backman Teia Miles, who made his AFL debut at the start of the season, will resume in the VFL this week after recovering from a medial strain.

The Hawks still have a long injury list with senior players Cyril Rioli (PCL), James Frawley (turf toe) and Ben Stratton (knee) still several weeks away from resuming, while Jaeger O'Meara (knee) won't be back until after the bye.



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