Franklin holds no fears for defender
West Coast Eagles defender Eric Mackenzie. Picture: AFL Media.

West Coast defender Eric Mackenzie is confident he can recover from the hamstring tightness which forced him out of Saturday night's win over Collingwood so he can play on Hawthorn superstar Lance Franklin this weekend.

Mackenzie surprisingly received the red sub's vest at three-quarter time after keeping Collingwood forward Travis Cloke scoreless and to only eight possessions.

West Coast led by 33 points at that stage, and with just six days to prepare for Hawthorn, the club decided it wasn't worth risking Mackenzie in the final term.

He said having time to rest on the bench had been a godsend.

"I was just a little bit tight in the hammy so I thought it was a chance to have a rest," Mackenzie said.

"I haven't had one (a rest) all year. I couldn't go on. I should be all good for this week.

"It's the first time I've played under 100 minutes all year. It was a chance to freshen up a little bit but not in the best of circumstances."

Mackenzie's fitness is crucial for the Eagles because he has played on the opposition's best key forward all year. Franklin kicked 1.6 against Mackenzie in round four, but the Eagle received votes in the AFL Coaches' Association award.

Franklin's only goal came after the umpire missed him pushing Beau Waters in the back and most of his points were from long range.

But the Hawk was best on ground when the teams met last year, kicking six goals from 24 possessions.

Franklin returned from six weeks on the sidelines and kicked 4.3 against Sydney on Saturday to remind everyone of his potency.

Hawthorn, who are clearly the highest-scoring team in the AFL this season, also have tall forwards Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston, so the Eagles need all their key defenders available.

Mackenzie said his confidence had risen all year and he was ready for the challenge on Franklin.

"I'm looking forward to it," Mackenzie said.

"I'd say we've both had some good games so we're about even I reckon.

"For his size he is amazing at ground level and he can also grab a ball. He's a freak athlete.

"He'll get the ball, he's going to get his shots so you just have to try and limit that. If he's up the ground then he's not within range. He can kick them from a long way so you've got to push him a long way up."

The Eagles must beat Hawthorn to remain in the top four and secure a double chance for the finals.

The club received good news yesterday when surgeons told midfielder Matt Rosa he would be fit for the end of September after fracturing a collarbone.

He could be available for the preliminary final.

"He's in good spirits," veteran Adam Selwood said.

"It's obviously disappointing for a great team man. Hopefully there's an opportunity for him to come back later in the season."

The West Australian

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