Roughead returns for Hawks' AFL clash

Jarryd Roughead (right) will return to the AFL when the Hawks meet the Swans in Sydney on Friday.
Jarryd Roughead (right) will return to the AFL when the Hawks meet the Swans in Sydney on Friday.

Hawthorn hope the smaller confines of the SCG will work to Jarryd Roughead's advantage when the key forward makes his much-anticipated AFL return.

Roughead is a massive inclusion for the Friday night clash with Sydney, which they must win after dropping two games outside the top eight.

The four-time premiership star and former captain was dropped after round seven.

There has been constant speculation since about when Roughead might return and even talk of whether the Hawks would consider a farewell game for him.

But the Hawks need him, with coach Alastair Clarkson noting they could not take any inside 50 marks during the first quarter of Friday night's loss to Essendon, despite 19 entries.

Clarkson added while Roughead had not lit up the VFL during his exile, he had done everything asked of him.

"We've been really pleased with what he's done, particularly helping out some of the younger blokes down at Box Hill," Clarkson said.

"He wasn't spectacular with his form last week, but he's really contributed well.

"He knew he needed to do some things in his game to give him the best chance of being able to contribute at senior level.

"We feel he's done that and Sydney at the SCG, that type of ground, we think he might be able to make a contribution for us."

Clarkson said one of the factors that doomed Roughead to the VFL was that he had not made enough contests - something that might not be so much of an issue at the smaller SCG.

Clarkson added Roughead was always going to return to the seniors.

"It's exciting for him and exciting for us - it was never our intention to write his career off four or five weeks ago when he went out of the side," he said.

Roughead returned with Harry Morrison, with captain Ben Stratton suspended and James Cousins dropped.

Roughead's return means James Sicily, who started in attack against Essendon, can go back and take Stratton's place.

Another factor is Roughead's experience in leadership, especially given Stratton's enforced absence.

"We didn't discuss that in too much depth, but Rough's leadership and just his stance in the group helps us," Clarkson said.

It has been a turbulent week at Hawthorn, with Stratton's double tribunal hit and president Jeff Kennett apologising for racially-themed comments about security guards.

Clarkson noted the spotlight quickly passed to Collingwood and Jaidyn Stephenson's betting suspension.

"We've had the Stratton issue, the Kennett issue and now it's the Stephenson issue. Jeff has acknowledged he's made an error with his choice of words," Clarkson said.

Australian Associated Press