Hawthorn Hawks

Inside Sport - - Team Previews -

The Hawks are as re­silient as blue-chip stocks, and won’t be far away af­ter miss­ing the fi­nals last year for the first time since 2009. Re­mem­ber, they won ten and drew one of their last 18 games in 2017, af­ter los­ing the first four.

Josh Gib­son and Luke Hodge are, of course, huge losses, and Shaun Bur­goyne (right) will be 35, but we think coach Clark­son has demon­strated con­clu­sively that he’s no dill, and that canny list man­age­ment is one of his many skills. There’s a young breed emerg­ing that might sud­denly ar­rive in 2018. Hawthorn has been so damned good that, even de­bil­i­tated and dis­lo­cated, they were able to play great, strate­gic foot­ball and land knock­out punches. They needed a pause to get to the next level. Jar­ryd Roug­head and the re­turn­ing Cyril Ri­oli will give them the strike­power up front that they lacked even while they were com­pet­i­tive. The Cyz­zler will find fine form af­ter his break.

The very promis­ing Jar­man Im­pey, from Port Adelaide, might prove a rev­e­la­tion as a de­struc­tive small for­ward af­ter a few sea­sons as a shut-down back­man. Last sea­son, Ryan Bur­ton and Tom Mitchell im­pressed. This year Jae­gar O’Meara needs to get fit enough. If it all falls into place, sud­denly the Hawks have fi­nals foot­ball writ­ten all over them.

Im­prob­a­ble sce­nario: Bur­goyne will com­pletely defy the years and have one of his best sea­sons ever, weav­ing the new per­son­nel seam­lessly into the side. If he does, Hawthorn scrapes into the fi­nals, or bet­ter.

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