STAYING switched on is a players' biggest challenge in finals as the hype and off-field commitments about football intensify.
Awards dinners are rolling out weekly at league level - we've had the AFL Players' Association MVP dinner on Tuesday night, the all-Australian is this Tuesday and there's the Brownlow in a couple of weeks.
The spotlight tends to be more on teams that have performed well during the season and are playing finals.
Players are in strong demand for interviews, press conferences and panel shows.
And at Hawthorn, we're also trying to prepare for a preliminary final in a week's time.
The challenge is to remain focused and not get distracted.
It's a matter of keeping priority of what's important and not being too far swept up in other things.
There's certainly that extra pressure placed on guys but in that respect, the club has done a lot of work to make sure interviews and off-field commitments are shared across the board.
We're lucky the large majority of our playing group played in the 2008 premiership and last season we went deep into finals as well.
We know what to expect. We are familiar with the pressure.
This week's MVP dinner definitely made you realise what was important.
Given the events of that have just transpired in the United States, the death of Port Adelaide's John McCarthy, the tone of the night was certainly affected quite a bit.
There were a couple of speeches about the loss, and it had a solemn influence on the whole evening.
It is really hard to put yourself in the shoes of Collingwood players, his former teammates, who this week are preparing for a semi-final.
We might not have a match this week but that has made remaining focused even more important on our assignment ahead.
The week's break before our preliminary final has been great to refresh.
Training has been pretty light, although we had a pretty solid hit-out at training yesterday to ensure we stay on track.
Then we had a chance to sit back last night and watch Adelaide and Fremantle battle out their semi-final last night to determine our opponent for next week.
There has been a bit of a beat-up in the media and by some football fans about the start time of our match next Saturday - 5.15pm.
It's a bit of an odd time but it has not impact on the players in terms of being ready.
We will prepare for our match as usual and will be ready to play no matter what time our match is scheduled.
We are hungry to win at any time. Up for grabs is a grand final spot.
Distractions and player demands will increase again this week.
Sam Mitchell, Buddy Franklin, Cyril Rioli and Grant Birchall are nominated for all-Australian selection.
Training will step back up to normal intensity.
It is really important to not get carried away.
Focus is imperative.