ILLAWARRA will need to overcome a disrupted preparation to arrest an 0-3 start to the season, with captain Kevin White battling to be fit for Sunday’s home opener against Brisbane.
The newly named skipper is nursing a rib injury after pulling up sore from a gym session earlier this week and was unable to complete Tuesday’s session.
He underwent treatment on Wednesday and remains hopeful of making it onto the floor. It’s not the only curve ball for the Hawks this week, with coach Rob Beveridge also laid low by a virus.
Star import Rotnei Clarke admits the loss of White would be a big blow.
“It’d be a huge [loss]. Even when he’s not on the floor just his presence and his leadership is really big for us,” Clarke said.
“On the court everyone knows what he can do with his defensive tenacity and, most of the time, getting in opponents heads. He’s very vocal and he does a lot of things for us that don’t show up on the stat sheet.
“That’s the big thing about him, he’s just a blue-collar guy he’s going to show up and work hard every single day and do everything he can to help the team win.”
The Hawks boast arguably the best back-court depth in the NBL, with Clarke and veteran guard Rhys Martin currently coming off the bench behind the starting unit of White and Mitch Norton.
It leaves Clarke confident they can cover the loss should White be ruled out.
“If anyone was to go down with an injury or whatever the case may be I feel like we have the pieces on this team to cover it,” Clarke said.
“I’m hoping and praying for good results but, whatever happens with Whitey, guys are going to step up and fill their role if need be.”
It will leave Beveridge pondering whether to deploy Clarke in his starting five, which would be a deviation from the former MVP’s starring role as a super-sub. It’s something Clarke is happy to do if required.
“It’s whatever coach wants, I’ve said that the whole way through,” Clarke said.
“If he wants to continue bringing me off the bench, that’s fine, if it’s inserting me into the starting line-up that’s fine with me to. I just want to what’s best for the team and give us the best chance to win.”