Ex-Hawk will make up for no crowd noise: Ceglar
There won't be any crowd noise at the MCG for today's Hawthorn-Brisbane Lions game, but ruckman Jonathon Ceglar knows Grant Birchall might make up for it with some good-natured banter aimed at his former teammates.
Birchall, who joined the Lions in the off-season after a decorated career with the Hawks, has always been regarded as one of the loudest on-field chatters.
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Today is unlikely to be any different as he takes on his former club with the Lions aiming to extend their four-game winning streak over the Hawks.
Ceglar says Birchall was one of the most loved players in brown and gold, but knows he won't be holding back in today's Round 1 clash.
"He's pretty good on the lip," Ceglar told the Sunday Herald Sun this week.
"And without the crowd, you're going to hear him.
"We all know how good he is. He's as good a ball user as there is. Someone will have a big job on him.
"I imagine there will be a few comments back and forth, so we might need to turn the mikes (microphones) down a bit."
Ceglar can't wait for the 2020 season for the Hawks to get underway, albeit in very different circumstances with the coronavirus crisis impacting the world.
"It's a bit weird (without the crowds), but no one really has a playbook here, so we will just roll with it," he said.
"We're really looking forward to playing.
"We haven't beaten Brisbane in a long time (since Round 8 2017), so we are not taking them lightly.
"They finished second in the home-and-away season last year. You don't fluke a top two finish.
"They have some stars across all lines - forward, back and mid. We have to bring our 'A' game and if we don't, we know what will happen."
Ceglar said the pre-season had been one of the most enjoyable in his time at Hawthorn, saying some changes that coach Alastair Clarkson - who has shown more drive than ever - had kept things fresh.
The ever-improving 29-year-old is coming off one of his strongest seasons, where he compiled career-best figures in disposals and marks, with Hawthorn's faith in the big man rewarded with a contract extension until the end of the 2022 season.
He will also hold the Hawks' No. 1 ruck slot this season, with Ben McEvoy assuming a role in defence, a plan crafted by Clarkson at stages of last year.
It is a move that has invigorated both big men.
"It was probably Clarko's idea at the back end of last year," Ceglar said.
"He can only play one of us in that sport and he was probably trying to work out how both of us can play.
"'Big Boy' (McEvoy) has done a great job for a number of years now. It is a position where it can become quite taxing and tiring. I think 'Big Boy' probably saw it as a chance to extend his career for a few more years.
"(McEvoy) sees the game so well. He is very vocal and organises really well. As a defender, you see the game in front of you and that suits him."
Being the first option ruckman is something Ceglar relishes, saying it suits his game.
"It's where I enjoy playing footy the most," he said.
"It is one of the last one-on-one positions, where it is pretty easy to see who has won at the end of the day."
Ceglar endured some hardship in a career (narrowly missing out on the Hawks' 2014 flag and knee issues that kept him sidelined), but those challenges have made him the footballer he is today.
"It has been a long journey, but one that I wouldn't change too much, because I've been learning all the time," he said.
"There have been a few hard times in there, but without the setbacks, I don't think I would be in the position that I am in now."
The desire to play more finals drives Ceglar - he has played three in his 76-game career.
"It was frustrating to miss out on the finals on percentage last year, but our first half of the year wasn't good enough," he said.
"We cost ourselves early and we know we can't do that again."
Originally published as Ex-Hawk will make up for no crowd noise: Ceglar