Hard­wick picks up Hawk gongs

Sunday Tasmanian - - SPORT - CHRIS CAVANAGH

HAWTHORN’S de­ci­sion to hand Luke Hodge’s fa­mous No.15 jumper to Blake Hard­wick this year has been jus­ti­fied af­ter the 21-year-old capped a break­out season with a sec­ond-place fin­ish in the club’s best-and­fairest count.

Mid­fielder Tom Mitchell won the award for a sec­ond year run­ning — no sur­prise af­ter his Brown­low Medal win.

Fel­low All-Aus­tralians Luke Breust and Jack Gun­ston also fea­tured in the top six.

But Hard­wick’s re­sult turned heads with the hard­nosed de­fender hav­ing not polled a Brown­low Medal vote in 44 ca­reer games and not plac­ing in the top 10 in last year’s best-and-fairest count.

Known for his flow­ing mul­let, Hard­wick also col­lected the club’s most promis­ing player award, av­er­ag­ing 16.4 dis­pos­als and 4.5 marks.

Mid­fielder Jaeger O’Meara fin­ished fifth in his sec­ond season at the club, hav­ing played 21 games af­ter manag­ing just six in 2017 due to in­jury.

De­fender Ben Strat­ton, who was con­sid­ered un­lucky to miss the All-Aus­tralian squad of 40, was seventh. Cap­tain Jar­ryd Roug­head and Shaun Bur­goyne did not make the top 10.

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