Saturday, February 4, 2017

Patience is the key with Jaeger O'Meara

There are many similarities between Luke Hodge and Jaeger O'Meara, the key one being the weight of expectation.

Hodge, joining the Hawks after being selected as number 1 in the SuperDraft of 2001 with many querying whether Hawthorn should have gone for Chris Judd or Luke Ball instead.

This intensified in the early parts of the trio's careers where Judd blitzed from game one quickly ascending to being viewed as the best in the game and Luke Ball viewed as a stellar performer at St Kilda.

Hodge suffered by constant comparisons with the duo with him rarely reaching the same early heights.

It set the notoriously fickle Hawk supporter base ablaze.

I giggle reminiscing of the radio footy talk back lines in the early 00's lighting up post match for Hawthorn games with irate fans slating the decision to pick Hodge as number 1.

Forget the fabled reputation of Tigers fans for 'eating their own'- they have nothing on the Hawks throng!

The hysteria highlighting a lack of patience.

With Hodge taking a little longer to ascend to greatness in the game but imprinting a more profound legacy than the aforementioned Judd and Ball.

History seems to be repeating with Jaeger O'Meara on joining the Hawks,

"Jaeger O'Meara could quite well go down in history as the greatest midfielder that's ever played the game,"
( Tim Watson, 2013 )

A huge call, but one that many are in agreeance with him a rare combination of inside and outside ability. Equally able to dominate as a contested bull in the inside clinches or blitz as a line breaking weapon on the outside. Add in his underrated ability overhead and his natural goalkicking sense, and he is the epitome of the complete midfield package,

Or was, until a cruel knee injury halted O'Meara's ascent to superstardom in 2015.

When it became known he wanted to join the Hawks at the end of 2016, the supporter base was vocal in doubting whether he was worth it because of his knee. The reactions paid little respect to the professionalism of the Hawks medical team in paying due diligence.

The irony on O'Meara joining the Club was the lack of context from fans over the knee. With many still banging on whether he was worth the risk but few paying respect to the time needed to gain confidence back after the injury and fully live up to his billing.

Like Luke Hodge's infancy at the Club, patience has been lacking with unrealistic expectations dominating. Intensifying with the sacrificing of Club Legends Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis at the end of 2016 with many viewing O'Meara as a walk up replacement.

In a surreal sense, Jaeger has been made to carry the can for the grief attached to the loss of the beloved duo.

The reality is 2017 is likely to be relatively disappointing for the gun recruit with him rising to full prominence from 2018 onwards.

Hodge Comparison#2

The infancy of O'Meara at the Club has been characterised by the same handling afforded Hodge.

With both seen as natural leaders and destined to Captain the Club.

The temptation was to throw O'Meara in a leadership role straight away with it standing out that he was not part of the leadership group announced when Jarryd Roughead was made Captain.

It was a throwback to Hodge being held back before he was deemed ready with Richie Vandenberg and Sam Mitchell burdened with the pressure of Captaincy.

When Hodge assumed the role from 2009 onwards, the rest is history with him fully ready to become one of the greatest Captains ever.

A similar path will be taken by O'Meara, with him likely to be added to the leadership group from 2019 onwards and viewed as a logical replacement for Jarryd Roughead.

The next comparison between Hodge and O'Meara will be as Legends at the Hawthorn Football Club 

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