Will there be a show of faith in those who are struggling with form or will patience be lost and a strong, stern message delivered? If patience has worn, resulting in a glut of changes, who will come in to the Hawthorn list of 22 and what areas that need addressing will be the focus of these inclusions/exclusions?
Here is the team I would select to take on the Cats:
B: Ben Stratton, James Frawley, Shaun Burgoyne
HB: Cyril Rioli, Kaiden Brand, Ryan Burton,
C: Liam Shiels, Jaeger O’Meara, Isaac Smith
HF: Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Luke Hodge
F: Ty Vickery, Jarryd Roughead, Kade Stewart
R: Jack Fitzpatrick, Will Langford, Tom Mitchell
INT: Dallas Willsmore, Blake Hardwick, Brendan Whitecross, Daniel Howe
In: Daniel Howe, Kade Stewart, Jack Fitzpatrick, Dallas Willsmore, Blake Hardwick
Out: Josh Gibson, Paul Puopolo, Ben McEvoy, Ricky Henderson, Teia Miles
I thought I would start with the 5 I have dropped, as these are sure to steal the focus of discussion.
Let me start with the decision to axe club legend Josh Gibson. Gibson was pivotal in our miraculous hat-trick of flags but now is a shadow of his former self and, sadly, represents a very exploitable part of our team.
Equally as controversial, is the dumping of fan favourite Paul Puopolo. My rationale for this revolves around two plays that featured Poppy during last week’s game against the Suns.
One incident saw Poppy getting out the back of a counter attack to goal where he sprinted 100 metres in contrast to a limp second quarter chase of Adam Saad out of defence where he chose to give up. The latter effort betrayed his inspirational defensive efforts from the past and the team as a whole. It seemed to provide a lift to all the Suns players who witnessed it and highlighted the real lack of effort stemming from some individuals in our team. He needs to be told very clearly this wasn't good enough and sent back to Box Hill to serve penance.
Ben McEvoy goes out, though I was torn on this decision to drop him - not because he doesn't deserve the axe, but because his ruck partner Ty Vickery seems to be just as hopeless and we have few other valid ruck options in reserve.
The last two eliminations of Henderson and Miles are problematic. Ricky Henderson has been useful but has not really had a definitive effect on the team’s prospects. I would drop him in the hope of including an individual who can have a real effect in preference to Henderson's good to average displays. As for Teia Miles, I am hesitant to drop a youngster without fully giving him a shot, but after two games, Miles looks a fair way off AFL level.
I fully expect to see both James Sicily and Billy Hartung included in our Round 4 team. My reasoning for resisting both of these players is I do not think either is up to it and I believe their selections contravene the needs of the team.
Most are calling for Sicily’s inclusion for his potential as a forward which has a certain justification. But this pays little respect to how shambolic we have been in delivering into the forward line, which nullifies his potential. The key focus needs to be on addressing our all round efforts and limitations will ball in hand and Sicily offers no remedy on both counts.
Hartung's pace is desperately needed but his lack of footy smarts, exploitability as a defender and sadly, him being ‘as soft as margarine’ puts a line through his name.
Of the 5 I have included:
Jack Fitzpatrick - a speculative choice in the hope of offering something for us in the ruck, or at the very least a break-even result;
Daniel Howe - to offer class and composure off half back and some skill in defensive rebound that we have been so lacking;
Dallas Willsmore - for his skills by foot. His scything left foot makes me reminiscent of our recent glories;
Kade Stewart – to take Paul Puopolo's role as a defensive forward. Stewart is a tough little player that is pit bull like in his defensive efforts, capped off with some delightful foot skills and good goal sense;
Blake Hardwick - rolling the dice a bit by including this youngster, but he is very reminiscent of Brent Guerra as a tough bugger and has sublime foot skills rebounding off half back.
Whoever the selectors end up going with, let’s hope they can get a much needed win over the Cats.