List Breakdown by position:
|Key Def||Gen Def||Mid||Mid/Fwd||Gen Fwd||Key Fwd||Ruck||Total|
Average Age: 25.3
Players In: Jarman Impey
Players Out: Luke Hodge
Retired/Delisted: Jack Fitzpatrick, Dallas Willsmore, Kade Stewart, Billy Hartung, Josh Gibson, Luke Surman
Draft Picks: 43, 68, 73, 78, 91
What They Got/Lost:
It’s hard to believe, but the biggest loss for the Hawks this year was the was their ability to challenge. Heading into the year, with some marquee signings, the Hawks were expected to bounce straight back into Premiership contention, but a 1-5 start quickly condemned them to their first non-finals season since 2009. That incidentally was the year after the flag that kickstarted their period of domination, but the landscape looks very different this time around.
In terms of players, the loss of Josh Gibson and Luke Hodge- with seven Premiership medals between them – is not insignificant, but it perhaps the loss of draft position due to their big ticket trades from 2016 that is going to hurt the most. While Tom Mitchell has been a success, Jaeger O’Meara has yet to show that his injury troubles are truly behind him, and as such, a lot of the Hawks eggs are are in a potentially dodgy looking basket.
Jarman Impey was the only new arrival in the trade period. His outside run and carry will provide an upgrade from the outgoing, and ultimately disappointing, Billy Hartung, who failed to fire consistently at AFL level. He cost them their only selection in the first two rounds, however, so it certainly puts the pressure on the recruiters.
What They Need:
The Hawks started to hit their straps back in 2008, and with smart trading and list management, they rode the wave for the best part of a decade. No fan will complain about four Premierships in eight years, including and incredible three-peat, but success breeds expectation, and for their fans, this year would not have been what they are used to. The level of success the Hawks have had, combined with their action at the trade table, has left them with little currency at the Draft in recent years, and Burton aside, the top up of talent from the bottom has been scarce. Instead, they have relied on trading and free agent pick ups, so they would certainly benefit from last year’s potential bust recruits O’Meara and Ty Vickery producing in 2018.
The Hawks’ main deficiencies lie through the midfield and in the forward line. Their defence looks solid, with Rising Star nominee Ryan Burton looking the jewel in the crown. There is a slight issue though, in that the other signs of promise have come from repurposed forwards. Blake Hardwick and James Sicily were both recruited as forwards, but look to have found their place down back, while even star forward Jack Gunston showed his best form playing in the back half at the end of the year. This of course leaves their forward stocks very short – especially if Gunston continues in that role. In the tall department, Jarryd Roughead is nearing the end of his career, and there is very little pushing up behind him, while ‘smalls’ Paul Puopolo and Cyril Rioli are both approaching 30 and have had injury struggles this year. A key forward would be high on the list, but at pick 43, the talent in that area would surely have dried up.
The midfield is their other area of concern. Even if O’Meara shrugs off his injury cloud, they are very undermanned in that part of the ground. Tom Mitchell is developing into a top midfield talent, and Liam Shiels is solid pressure player, but the likes of Will Langford and Jono O’Rourke have not developed as hoped. I’d expect the Hawks to boost this area with the best available midfielder, and hope they can snag a bargain.
On the Radar:
Pick 43 is a bit late to entering the proceedings when you have a few gaps to fill, but there should be some talent available that fit the Hawks’ needs. In terms of key forwards, I’d expect them to take a good look at someone like Hugh Dixon. The 195cm Tassie product impressed at the U18 Championships and also in the All-Stars game, and could prove to be a bargain as a third rounder.
With their later picks, they may also look at South Australian prospect Callum Coleman-Jones, who although classed as a ruck, has shown some of his best football in the forward 50. A great mark, and mobile for his size, he could be a great acquisition to learn under Roughy’s tutelage.
The Hawks may just focus on building their midfield, and in which case they will look for any talent that falls down the order. There are a few midfielders from WA that appear to still be under the radar and snatching one of them could have an immediate impact. Brayden Ainsworth and Brandon Starcevich are both a chance to be available at pick 43, and both could slot straight into the Hawks midfield, with Ainsworth’s contested work and Starcevich’s burst a highlight. They could also snag a bargain late with the likes of Eastern Ranges midfielder Trent Mynott or Gippsland’s Callum Porter. The balanced mids could develop very nicely alongside the Hawks’ established guns.