Thursday, October 20, 2016

Reviewing Hawthorn's Trade Period

Losing Sam Mitchell killed our Gains!
Check Mate in Chess is the first thought that came to mind as Hawthorn's wheeling and dealings came to an end in the 2016 trade period.

The bonus was we gained to vindicated midfield guns in Jaegar O'Meara and Tom Mitchell as well as the oft victimised big forward Tyrone Vickery. A player that our mass of fickle fans are already bagging but will end up being every bit as valuable as David Hale as a contested forward and second ruck.

Losing Mitchell nulls and voids to a large degree all our acquisitions in the short term.  Mitchell would have been a perfect compliment to the two mids in the shielding he would have given them allowing them to find their feet while slipping under the focus of oppositions due to all the attention he dictates. It would have been quid pro quo with Sam also benefitting from the support the duo would have afforded him after spending most of 2016 as a virtual midfield lone ranger.

Despite the fanciful tale coming out of the club that he left to pursue future coaching endeavours, I view this as a load of old codswallop. He could have stayed with us and been inundated with coaching offers when he chose to leave. No doubt he was pushed with it a desperate salary dump to allow the pursuit of targets. The re-signing of other veterans like Hodge, Gibson and Burgoyne midseason was  trigger happy and should have been held off till after the season.

In fact, there was no justifiable reason given why their signings were not held over till the end of the year!

Gibson and Hodge are club legends, but they should have been sacrificed before Sam with both having Father Time lurking in their shadows.

Brad Hill going might not furrow the brows of many Hawk fans but he is a huge loss robbing us of his line breaking speed and running to position so crucial in creating space for our game plan to thrive. It will put the acid on Billy Hartung to lift, but he had many chances this year to seal a spot and looked lacking in many areas. If  these struggles continue  it puts greater pressure on Smith to be the man with the burden of a likely  heavy tag.

Maybe a bolter like Teia Miles can add some outside run.

Jordan Lewis no longer being at the club is hurtful because of the love and respect he is held in by fans but I think he is a fair way past his best. A good analogy would be Brad Sewell and how the game passed him by with the upping in pace.

The 'chess pieces' aside,the other main concern was while looking to our present and future in the deals we did we also compromised it with how we ratified them. Our first pick in the 2016 draft is now 88 as well as trading our first and second pick from the 2017 draft.

Raising the point of why we didn't use players to get the deals done????

Many of the players we did float having little or no appeal to rival clubs pointing to the concern over the diminished quality in our depth. We could, and pointedly should have been more ballsy in using a few players of value to get viable picks in the draft to bring some bright kids in.

Rant aside, here is my take on the 'newbies'

Jaegar O'Meara 

A once in a generation player that will electrify our supporter base. I can see him Captaining the club and ending his career as a club legend

Fans will point to him not playing for two years and the concerns over his knees. My response, show some faith in the professional nature of our club and the fact our fitness team would have checked him thoroughly before giving the green light to the recruiting team to chase him

Tom Mitchell 

Great pick up that will be a gun in time but I think we will need patience with him

Our midfield is nowhere near as accomplished as the midfield he came from where he had the shielding of vindicated guns like Kennedy, Hannebary, Parker, Jack and Heeney. With his namesake leaving he might walk in as our number one midfielder meaning he might get tagged.

He will be a gun, but it might take him a little while

Tyrone Vickery

Sadly our supporter base is already bagging him and with our irrational boo boys leeching onto him already he will rarely get fair treatment.

He is a under performing contested big forward and very able second ruck that has had his footy career curtailed by the rancid environment at Tigerland. In our culture, he will thrive and be every bit as valuable, and I think even more so than David Hale was.

40+ goals every year at our club.

Other Fan Views:

Cary McGrath- Hawks get there 2 midfield guns and a giant bag of spuds. Cost = no worthy picks this year or next.

Alastair McKibbin Sniper-like precision, but were they the right targets and was the cost acceptable?
Colin Walsh  "Trade week, over 9 days means you now really play your cards close to your chest, and believe a deal will eventually get done,"its not over, til its over"

Our Prospects in 2017 

If Sam Mitchell was still at the club to compliment O'Meara and Tom Mitchell it would have formed a lethal midfield trio. Him going lessens their threat in the immediate future for they will get immediate focus while still trying to find their feet at the club. Particularly O'Meara who is still coming back from a major injury.

It will see us still be in the top 8 but not be a real contender.

To contradict this it would rely on a few on the outskirts of our team really lifting as well as the veterans that remain still being at the top of their games. I think Josh Gibson will struggle with greater opposition attention nullifying a key in Clarko's game plan. Also, while it hurts me to say, I think Luke Hodge's best is behind him and maybe he should have retired this year.

Of the youth, I think Ryan Burton will be a gun and Kieron Lovell looks like a jet. A smokey could be Teia Miles, who if not for injury would have debuted this year and has a lovely bit of mongrel and pace.

Prediction- 6-8

Monday, September 19, 2016

My Trade Strategy for Hawthorn

Jaegar O'Meara- A must get for Hawthorn
The beating of the trade jungle drums has been deafening since Hawthorn's dream of a 4peat ended with the nightmare of a shock straight-sets exit from the finals.

With the comprehensive loss to the Western Bulldogs exposing the following weaknesses in our line up:
  1. A midfield that has been smashed consistently throughout 2016 in contested possession and the associated clearances. Key in this has been the inability of the inside midfielders. With an unhealthy reliance on many veterans who are starting to slow coupled with players on the fringes continually showing they are not up to it.

    Names like Will Langford, Jono O'Rourke and Billy Hartung have been hugely disappointing.
  2. An attack lacking a big contested presence with the absence of Jarryd Roughead to illness along with David Hale's retirement putting a focus on this. The likes of Tim O'Brien and Ryan Shoenmakers have been tried in the role but have come up well short. Others like James Sicily excited in the early parts of the season when he flew under the radar but as the season progressed and greater attention was shown to him he was exposed as lacking in many areas.
  3. The diminishment of our vaunted depth. The highlight of our threepeat has been the strength of the best 25 on our list. With any in our best 22 capable of making vital contributions in all games as well as others on the fringes. In 2016, this has become a memory, replaced by a soft underbelly in our team with players not up to it and exploited in many games.
The rebuilding of the midfield needs to be the priority with names such as Jaegar O'Meara and Tom Mitchell already targeted leading to the question of how to get them to the club.

Two Birds with One Stone

I would float this deal to secure both:

Luke Bruest and James Sicily to Gold Coast Suns

Jaegar O'Meara and pick 8 to Hawthorn

Pick 8 to Sydney for Tom Mitchell

The use of Bruest is two-fold, with it being a salary dump as well as looking to the end of next year where he is a free agent and could leave for free chasing big money. The use of James Sicily would outrage many of the Hawk faithful with many seeing him as a star on the rise and going so far to ordain him as the 'next Dermott Brereton.' I see him as a mark and kick type forward which is ok if he was 6'6 and 105 kgs but with him being 6'1 and 85 kgs his strength is too easy to counter. When this happens, his absence of a ground game not only renders him obsolete but also makes him very exploitable.

The club would be well advised to cash in on the hype attached to him like they did with trading Trent Croad back in the day before he is fully exposed as an average player lacking tricks.

Leading to the Sydney side of this cunning plan.

I think we will gain O'Meara quite easily, but Mitchell, and dealing with the Swans will be problematic. They will be adverse to giving a rival a chance to improve meaning they will play hardball. By the same token, it would be wise of us to give them draft pick(s) and the speculation that goes with it rather than a player that might improve them.

The offer of pick 8 should be sufficient which would still leave us with a first round pick.

If Tom Mitchell recommits to the Swans, they have the choice to use the pick in the draft to replenish the depth on the list, or have it as part of a 'Plan B' to trade for another player.

The 'Mitchell Plan B'

I would look long and hard at Hamish Hartlett from Port Adelaide if we could accomodate his wage demands.

As an outside runner with his lethal foot skills and great size he could play as a marauding winger or rebounding half back. He is touted to be on the trade block at the Power with him wanting to come to Melbourne and an offer of pick 8 should seal the deal

Ty Vickery

The much maligned big Tiger is a no brainer to sign through free agency with him adding a much needed contested element to our forward line as well a capable second ruck.

He has shown glimpses of his ability and a new environment away from the eat their own cauldron of Tigerland could be the making of him as a player.

Brad Hill

I think the club needs to do everything in their power to keep Hill. It is no coincidence that when he plays well he adds so much to the team. Even during the Friday loss to the Dogs, when he was up early we were in the ascendancy but with him fading we were overrun

If his heart is intent on returning to Perth and in particular Fremantle the club needs to target a 15-20 range draft pick or relative player in return. If Freo wants to play hardball the option is to look at garnering West Coast's interest.

Other Trade Bait

Ryan Shoenmakers, Angus Litherland, Will Langford,- All three have had enough chances to seal spots in the team but have come up short. None would represent great value but might be the throw in 'steak knives' to get another deal over the line.

If they cannot be traded, then sadly all three should be de-listed

Last Chance Saloon

The likes of Tim O'Brien and Billy Hartung are kept on the list more out of hope than any real faith. With both contracted till the end of 2017 they will have to become consistent performers in 2017 and beyond for patience must be running out on them.

I would listen to clubs showing interest in both, but if no justifiable offers come in I would keep both.

My Best 22 for 2017

B:Josh Gibson, James Frawley, Shaun Burgoyne

HB:Luke Hodge, Kaiden Brand, Grant Birchall

C:Isaac Smith, Sam Mitchell, Billy Hartung

HF.Jack Gunston, Ryan Burton,  Cyril Rioli

F:Paul Puopolo, Ty Vickery, Liam Shiels

FOL:Ben McEvoy, Jaegar O'Meara, Tom Mitchell/Hamish Hartlett

I/C:Ben Stratton, Brendan Whitecross, Kieran Lovell, Jordan Lewis

Friday, September 16, 2016

View from the Outer, Semi Final, Hawthorn versus Western Bulldogs

After being flogged to see us go out in straight sets from the finals, it would be easy to go headlong into recriminations.


It pays little respect to a Western Bulldogs opposition who were like men possessed and were fabulous throughout. Never panicking when they were 22 points behind 22 minutes into the 2nd quarter and summoning the resolve to fight back hard to be even pegging at the main break and blitzing after.

Luke Bruest was added to all Bulldogs supporters Christmas list after an inexplicable miss that would have blown the lead out to 28 points.

Arguably breaking the backs of the young Dogs.

After, the Scrays fully exploiting the weakness in the Hawks midfield that has resembled the glass jaw on a boxer all year long and comprehensibly knocking the reigning champs out. The 161 to 111 mauling in the contested possession represented a domino chain making the rest of our departments cave in. The defence was courageous in standing firm against the tide of midfield dominance but after the young Dogs raised their heads in entering 50 they blew us away.

We had no answers, with the soft underbelly in our 22 exposed with too many passengers on the bus. It is easy to focus on lesser lights as part of this, but a stand out was a vindicated legend in Josh Gibson. Who has dominated when allowed to zone off as a free man in defence but after the Cats exposed him last week by making him accountable, the Scrays did the same tonight.

The other standout was the once fearsome forward line having no viable targets forward after the stoppers were put on Cyril Rioli. The absence of Jarryd Roughead proved telling and while the only thing that matters is the young man's return to health the reality was the pursuit for the 4Peat ended with him being out.

Looking Forward 

Expect some major dealing in the trade market. We will get Tyrone Vickery in free agency which will help our forward line. The main interest is how we will get both Jaegar O'Meara and Tom Mitchell to the club. Their willingness to join is irrelevant, it will be whether we can meet the cost for them in player exchange and who this might represent.

Expect to see some shock departures.

Player Ratings:

Taylor Duryea- 5/10 

Honest without ever being decisive as a defender or on the rebound out of defence

James Frawley-6/10

Did his job on Tom Boyd

(BOG )Shaun Burgoyne-7/10

Arguably our best with him one of the few who can win a contested ball in the midfield

Luke Hodge-6/10

Was ok without ever being the decisive force he has been in the past in the biggest games

Josh Gibson-3/10

Makes a huge difference when you have to be responsible for a man rather than zone off as a spare man in defence

Grant Birchall-4/10

Ok without ever slicing through the lines with his run and foot skills

Isaac Smith-5/10

Average without ever being definitive

Sam Mitchell-5/10

Workmanlike without ever reaching his normal destructive level

Bradley Hill-5/10

Teased a lot, but only pleased on a few occasions

Luke Breust-1/10

Gets a 1 for the inexplicable miss in the second when the team had momentum and the goal would have blew the margin out to nearly 5 goals.

Killer blow

Jack Gunston-2/10

Rarely seen

Cyril Rioli-4/10 

Great in the first half but very quiet after. With him being Hawthorn's only viable forward option the teams chances ended when the Dogs collared his influence

Paul Puopolo- 1/10 

Must have thought he was back in 2012 after a similarly dreadful finals series

Jack Fitzpatrick-5/10

Honest, and tried his heart out

Ryan Schoenmakers-1/10

Invisible man

(BOG )Ben McEvoy-6/10

Tried his heart out and one of the better performers

Jordan Lewis-2/10

After being brilliant last week looked slow and out of his depth tonight

(BOG)Liam Shiels-7/10 

Best on ground for the Hawks

Ben Stratton-4/10

Tried his best

Brendan Whitecross-4/10

Honest goer

James Sicily-2/10

After scoring the first goal was rarely sighted afterwards

Billy Hartung-0/10

Got nowhere near it all night and it was a gaff bringing him in for Daniel Howe.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Preview, Semi Final, Hawthorn versus Western Bulldogs

They say in every fairytale there is a monster.

With the precocious Western Bulldogs facing this reality in a knockout final on Friday night against a Hawthorn unit still smarting from stealing defeat from the hands of victory against Geelong.

Leaving us all to ponder whether the youthful Dogs can contend with and slay the impending beast, as opposed to being monstered?

The Teams


B:Taylor Duryea, James Frawley, Shaun Burgoyne

HB:Luke Hodge, Josh Gibson, Grant Birchall

C:Isaac Smith, Sam Mitchell, Bradley Hill

HF:Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Cyril Rioli

F:Paul Puopolo, Jack Fitzpatrick, Ryan Schoenmakers

FOL:Ben McEvoy, Jordan Lewis, Liam Shiels

I/C:Ben Stratton, Brendan Whitecross, James Sicily,Billy Hartung

EMG:Will Langford, Daniel Howe, Matt Spangher


B:Jason Johannisen, Joel Hamling, Matthew Boyd

HB:Matthew Suckling, Dale Morris, Easton Wood

C:Lachie Hunter, Marcus Bontempelli, Liam Picken

HF:Jack Macrae, Zaine Cordy, Jake Stringer

F:Tory Dickson, Tom Boyd, Caleb Daniel

FOL:Jordan Roughead, Luke Dahlhaus, Tom Liberatore

I/C:Clay Smith, Toby McLean, Josh Dunkley, Shane Biggs

The Hawks have added the run of Billy Hartung replacing the versatility of Dan Howe. As well as bring in James Sicily to add some marking power and greater structure to their forward line with the injured Ryan Burton making way

The only change for the Western Bulldogs is Toby McLean coming in for the injured Lin Jong

The Prelude to the Game

For both, the legacy of 'last week' looms large....

How will Hawthorn's respond to last weeks galling defeat?

A question dominating all the headlines and which smacks of ignorance to a group with proven resilience as seen in dealing and prevailing from bitter blows in the recent past. If anything, the defeat will sting them, and in the process steel their focus and with it, ignite all their engines.

The bigger question in my mind is the response of the Dogs to last week's momentous win with the reactionary media going into overdrive in ordaining them as 'arriving as a force.' The irony of this is inspirational wins are as often as hard to deal with as galling defeats with them deluding young teams into thinking they are more advanced than they are. We saw this in 2007 with Hawthorn after a great finals victory against Adelaide led to a shock loss the week after against 'Norf', When it was obvious most of the player's minds we still basking in the adulation of last week.

Most are expecting last week to fill the Dogs sails with the winds of momentum but do not be surprised if they suffer a mental letdown

The Game 

Targeting has been central to the anti-social ethos of  Alastair Clarkson's Hawthorn dynasty with it certain to be front row centre of Friday night. They will try to beat up and batter the youthful pups as well as pay special attention to a few individuals.

Like the 2014 Grand Final where they had a huge target on the head of Dan Hannebary's head they will do similar to one of the Scrays precocious pups. The obvious one is Bontempelli, but to lend a cricketing analogy, he has a Brian Lara demeanour about him and would lift in the face of it. The next obvious one is Caleb Daniel, who is so destructive with his creativity and footy smarts that have flourished with him floating under the radar. He ran with Sam Mitchell last game and is likely to do the same but look for some old fashioned ugliness to emerge with the work the Hawks put into him.

Diverting from the intimidation factor, the midfield battles  will be decisive.

Key in this will be whether Hawthorn can match Footscray in the inside battles to facilitate their uncontested game style?

After struggling all season they lifted the ante against Geelong last week but can they follow suit against arguably a better midfield unit containing an outside arsenal of line breaking jets that can rip any opposition to ribbons.

Jordan Lewis and Shaun Burgoyne were huge last week with their contested bestiality and will need to be similarly stellar.

If Hawthorn can hold their own in the midfield, I cannot see the Scrays having the firepower forward to kick a winning score. With them lacking the height in their attack to expose the Hawks defensive frailties and relying on a host of small and mid size forwards to get the job done which buys into Hawthorn's defensive strength.

It would rely on either Tom Boyd or Jake Stringer playing major roles.

The Key Duals 

Zaine Cordy versus Josh Gibson 

It is near certain the Dogs will play a defensive forward on Josh Gibson, with Zaine Cordy likely to get the role. Last week Geelong assigned Jimmy Bartel the role of making Gibson accountable for an opponent and limiting his ability to zone off and impact on other contests as third man up. It left the Hawks defence isolated in one on one duals making them very exploitable.

The Scrays are sure to follow suit and it will be interesting to see Gibson's response after looking frustrated and lost last week

Liam Shiels/Ben Stratton versus Marcus Bontempelli 

I cannot see the Hawks tagging Bontempelli tightly but will lock onto him tight in stoppages trying to limit his clearance ability. He is likely to go forward to cause match up issues, and when this occurs, I can see Ben Stratton locking on to him.

The X-Factors 

The Media's effect on the Umps 

It will be interesting to see the umpiring response after a few Hawks made mention to the scragging tactics of Scott Selwood while tagging Sam Mitchell last week.

If the past is anything to go by the response will be reactionary with the umps paying a few cheap free kicks for the Hawk midfield dynamo.

The 'Unknown' Dogs 

The names like Bontempelli, Stringer and Liberatore amongst others are known by all. But, there are still many in the Scrays line up that are floating under the radar and not getting the dues they deserve. This makes them very dangerous for they are often not afforded the attention that their abilities dictate.

Views from the Outer
Glenn S Birnie
: If we lose it not the result of how we finish but a result of where we have lacked throughout the year against quicker midfield

Michael Ellery:
More of the same from last week, we were the better team in general play.

Mark Grasso- 
I think the result will essentially be determined by the Dog's mindset. I feel their best will beat us for we now lack that key forward presence and are susceptible all over the ground.


This Hawks unit is too proud to go out in straight sets, and the combination of this, and the Dogs feeling a let down after last weeks remarkable victory.

Hawks to prevail by 6 goals