The jury is out on whether Brian Lake can continue his late-career resurgence at Hawthorn
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NAB AFL DREAM TEAM: The former Dog could shine again as he chases an elusive flag...
2013 position: defender
2013 price: $392,800
Bye: round 11
Last year's average: 76
Last year's high score: 112 (round 12)
Four reasons to have him in your team
1) A Dream Team powerhouse in his All Australian years, Lake bounced back from a horror 2011 with a fine season in 2012, displaying the rebounding footy and sharp ball use that made him so valuable. There is no obvious reason he can't do it again.
2) Hawthorn are more desperate than most sides for a genuine key defender to take care of the opposition's gorilla forwards. As long as Lake is fit, you can expect him to be a fixture in the Hawks' back six. At almost $400,000, you want that sort of investment playing more often than not.
3) When's he's up and going, Lake rarely puts in a shocker. From round two to round 18 last year, he averaged almost 83, with a lowest score of 49. Yes, he delivered a first-up 29 against West Coast when the Dogs got pumped and tailed off at the end of the year but in a season where reliable defenders were at a premium, Lake was one of the better options.
4) It's said a change is as good as a holiday and Lake's move to Waverley could be just the thing to reinvigorate him in the twilight of his career. At Whitten Oval, he had precious little other than a pay cheque to play for as Brendan McCartney began his six-year rebuild of the club. At Hawthorn, he has a guaranteed berth in one of the league's best two teams, which is already favourite for the 2013 premiership. If he can't produce his A-game in these circumstances, he never will.
Age wearies even the most talented warriors and Lake will be 31 by the time he takes the field for the first time as a Hawk in a senior game. Couple that with the fact that he can take longer than some to recover from injury and you have a recipe for prolonged absences. Hamstrings and quads don't get any more flexible as you get older, and they certainly don't heal any quicker.
Lake was often deployed as a chief playmaker out of defence at the Bulldogs but that role could be filled by others at Hawthorn. Brent Guerra and Luke Hodge tend to be given the job of delivering the ball upfield, while Josh Gibson has cemented his place as the defender most likely to zone off his man to spoil another. Both of those jobs were Lake's stock in trade out west and he could find himself in a more limited role - and one that doesn't allow him to rack up the points as freely as before.
Risk rating: The combination of his ageing body, the uncertainty surrounding his new role at Hawthorn and his relatively hefty price tag make Lake far from a must-buy this pre-season. He could easily deliver the goods, though. Three Alan Didaks.
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