Team review – Hawthorn

Written by Thommo on February 2 2016

2015 Revisited.

Older coaches: Please go to the CD collection (for even older coaches, that’s the cassette collection) and find your Queen greatest hits album and play: “We are the champions.”

Perfection needs a theme song!

Some may argue with the perfection tag and I’ll concede some points: Yes the Hawks started the year win-loss-win-loss-win-loss-win-loss. Yes, they seemed to have peaked too soon when they crushed Sydney and Fremantle in rounds 15 and 16 but lost to the Tigers in round 18. Yes they were smacked by West Coast in the qualifying final. Yes they were a bit ordinary against Fremantle during the Preliminary final and they benefitted from some questionable umpiring.

But when the Hawks stepped on the MCG on grand final day….

Perfection was repeated.


Enjoy the music.

We are the champions, my friends, and we’ll keep on fighting to the end.

We are the champions!

We are the champions!


Best 22

B: Taylor Duryea, James Frawley, Ben Stratton

HB: Grant Birchall, Josh Gibson, Shaun Burgoyne

C: Isaac Smith, Sam Mitchell, Bradley Hill

HF: Liam Shiels, Ryan Schoenmakers, Cyril Rioli

F: Jack Gunston, Ben McEvoy, Luke Breust

Foll: Jon Ceglar, Luke Hodge, Jordan Lewis

I/C: James Sicily, Paul Puopolo, Matt Spangher, Billy Hartung

Fringe: Angus Litherland, Tim O’Brien, Daniel Howe, Will Langford, Brendan Whitecross, Marc Pittonet 


 Crystal Ball

The media can’t stop talking about the next big thing, the next contender. Last year it was Port Adelaide (oops!) while this year the Dangerfield-lead Geelong is the hype team that the media has ear-marked to join West Coast, Sydney and Fremantle as a threat.

But none of that really matters to Hawthorn.

Those teams won’t derail the juggernaut!

No, Hawthorn’s real challenger is Time. Time stops for no man and He (She?) has already forced Hale and Lake into replacement while Roughie has succumbed to an existing PCL strain. Ceglar can fill David Hale’s role well enough but Brian Lake was a big-game player who will not be easily replaced and the Hawks don’t really have a big gorilla forward to replace Roughie.

And will Time stop there? Hodge, Mitchell, Burgoyne and Gibson are all vital to the Hawk’s fortunes but at age 31+ any or all of them could be mown down by old age.

The Hawks have depth but do they have the star quality required to replace injuries to key personnel? Third year players Sicily and O’Brien will be asked to cover Roughie for the first half year while young backmen and depth players in Brand, Heatherley, Fitzpatrick or Spang will need to stand up to cover Brian Lake. Howe, Hartung, Langford and O’Rourke must continue to develop so there may be life after Sammy and Hodge.

If all these players are up the challenge, Fourthorn will be on the cards.

And if the kids can’t lift?

Remember the dominant Lions of 2001 – 2003?

Where are they now?


Player Reviews


Guns >$450K

No gun defenders were reviewed as now that Hodge is a pure midfielder there are no great options. Some coaches may consider Josh Gibson ($489,200), Grant Birchall ($465,000) and Shaun Burgoyne ($$456,700) although they are all unlikely to increase in value significantly in 2016.


Mid-price Madness $200K – $450K

Daniel Howe – D – $265,800

2015 Av. 49 from 4 games

Vests – 2 Green, on 3QT of round 4 (GC) and on Q4 of round 20 (Geelong)

2015: It was a learning year for Howe in his first year, playing mainly in the VFL although he did managed 4 AFL games, 2 of those as the green vest. He showed class and the ability to win the contested ball with his Nat Fyfe sized body (191cm, 84kg) and didn’t look out of place in defence and in the midfield in his 2 full AFL games.

PROs: Listed as a defender despite being earmarked as a midfielder of the future for the Hawks. In his 2 full games of AFL he scored well with a SC average of 80 points from 18 possessions and 6 marks.

CONs: He’s not yet in the best 22 unless he can take Suckling’s spot ahead of Hartung.

Verdict: I like the kid as there’s something Pendlebury-like about him but still a no unless he blitzes the preseason.


Rookies <$200K

Brendan Whitecross – D – $198,300

2015 Av. 36 from 4 games.

Past (2013-2009): 62, 85, 69, 50, 67

Vests: 2 Green, subbed on Q4 of round 5 (NM) and subbed on late Q3 of round 6 (GWS)

2015: Whitey finally managed to stay fit for a season but after playing 4 early games from rounds 3-6 (2 vested), he couldn’t break back into the team. In the VFL his form was patchy early, quite normal for a player returning from serious injury, but he improved as the year continued and he wasn’t far from a recall when the season finished.

PROs: He is an elite kick and can score as seen by his 2012 form when he scored over 90 on 10 occasions.

CONs: Is there a spot for him now? He’ll be fighting with Hartung, Litherland, Howe, Langford and O’Rourke for Suckling’s spot.

Verdict: I feel for Whitey, but I can’t see a spot for him in the best 22. If he plays early, he’s a bargain.



Guns >$450K

Jordan Lewis – M – $555,200

2015 Av. 103 from 19 games.

Past 5: 109, 97, 96, 91, 88

2015: Why do the ones you love hurt you so much? Lewis started the year with a bang, scoring 154, 111 and 107 in his first 3 games but the alarm bells were going off as these scores were actually low considering he was averaging over 35 possessions and 8 marks per game. In his infinite wisdom, Clarko had moved Lewis out of the pack to a more outside/wing role, so his contested possession count had dropped. In addition, Lewis couldn’t hit the side of a barn with his kicking which further hurt his Supercoach output. To make matter worse, Lewis decided to hit our favourite ruckman, Goldstein, and missed 2 weeks with suspension. On his return, Lewis continued to score poorly in his outside role and amazingly from 30 possessions per game, he only averaged 103 supercoach points for the year!

PROs: He knows how to find the ball, he gives a lot of score assists each week and he’s still in the peak of his career.

CONs: Unless he moves back into the pack, his role will hurt his scores. I know it’s a dirty word, but he’s more of a dreamteam gun.

Verdict: He’ll score better if he returns to his inside role, but there’s better value out there.


I haven’t reviewed Luke Hodge ($584,400) and Sam Mitchell ($586,600) as they are at their top price and both are sure to be rested (or suspended) at some stage.


Mid-price Madness $200K – $450K

Billy “Kermit” Hartung – M – $319,600

2015 Average 59 from 18 games.

Past: 36

Vests: 10 Green! – 8 in the regular season, 2 in finals

2015: We all know Billy’s story: He played 18 regular season games and 2 finals only to be dropped for the Grand Final, making way for Jack Gunston. He is an elite runner with excellent kicking skills who became Hawthorn’s super sub, with 10 green vests across the season, the most in the AFL.

PROs: He averaged 80 points and 22 possessions in unvested games in 2015, posting highs of 121 (round 7 – Melbourne) and 118 (round 17 – Carlton) for the year. Entering his third year and determined to hold his spot, Billy could average over 90.

CONs: He’s still a bit light and can struggle to impact games, with an unvested low of 36 SC points against Essendon in round 13.

Verdict: In any other year, I’d say jump on, but with so much value around Billy still won’t be popular. It’s not easy being green.


Rookies <$200K

Kieran Lovell – M – $126,300

2015 national draft #22

Who is he?

This Tassie boy is short, quick with his hands and loves to win heaps of contested and uncontested possessions, averaging over 30 touches in the U18 championships and TAC cup. Sound familiar? That’s right, he is a faster, more agile version of Sam Mitchell.

Verdict: It pains me to say this, but it’s a shame the Hawks selected him. He’s a natural-born fantasy footballer who will dominate the VFL this year.



Jonathan Ceglar – R – 387,700

2015 Av. 71.86 from 14 games.

Past: 77, 47, DNP

Vest: 1 Red, subbed at 3QT in round 19 (West Coast)

2015: Cegs started the season well working in tandem with McEvoy and then Hale when McEvoy missed rounds 7-14 with injury. At his best, he won plenty of ball around the ground with a high of 19 possessions against the Bulldogs in round 3 but at his worst he struggled to get involved in general play with a low of 2 possessions against the Power in round 4. Cegs timed his run of bad form poorly, struggling to impact the contest in the round 14 contest against the Pies and so he was dropped for the return of McEvoy. He only played one more AFL game for the year as he struggled with back soreness late in the season.

PROs: He’s a good tap ruckman who wins 40% of contests and has a hitout to advantage percentage of 11%, but he’s not as strong a forward as McEvoy. With the injury to Roughie and the retirement of David Hale, expect McEvoy to play forward while Ceglar rucks most of the game. He should comfortably increase his average number of hitouts and possessions (11 possessions per game in 2015).

CONs: Cegs can go missing in games, managing less than 10 possessions in 4 of 14 games in 2015 and scoring less than 70 SC points in 5 games (2 below 50!).

Verdict: At that price Lobbe surely provides better value.


Ben McEvoy ($452,200) is likely to improve but there are better value options available in the ruck this year. McEvoy has never reached the heights of his St Kilda days since moving to Hawthorn due to his shared ruck duties and forward role and with Roughead’s injury he’ll spend even more time forward. Expect Marc Pittonet ($123,900) to debut but he won’t feature much in only his second year on the Hawks’ list.



Guns >$450K

Jack Gunston – F – $521,200

2015 Av. 96.6 from 22 games

Past: 90, 83, 71, 56, 49

2015: For the sixth straight year Gunston increased his SC output on the back of more disposals and marks than 2015 while still managing to kick 53 goals across the season. It was not uncommon to find Jack playing deep forward, high half forward and as a floating defender all in the same match. The only negative was his kicking for goal, with his accuracy dropping from his career average of 63% to 54% in 2015.

PROs: He’s durable, improved his output every year and he has hit the age that should see him peak in 2016. He reads the play well so he should continue floating into the backline to take intercept marks. Due to his high possession count (average 16.5 per game in 2015) he doesn’t need a lot of goals to score well and he has a high ceiling with a peak of 165 in round 17 against Carlton.

CONs: He can occasionally go missing with 5 scores under 80, two of those being a 22 (round 12 – Adelaide) and 39 (round 19 – West Coast) although he did injure his finger early in the Adelaide game. The injury to Roughie may force Jack into a more traditional forward role which may effect his fantasy game.

Verdict: He’ll be a point of difference in your team and he could easily push his average into the low 100s but watch his preseason role closely now that Roughie is out. I don’t think he’ll score as well as a pure forward.


Cyril Rioli – F – $500, 800

2015 Av. 92.8 from 20 games.

Past 5: 93, 88, 99, 100, 95

Vest: 1 Red, subbed at 3QT in round 9 (GC)

2015: Cyril spent his preseason building up his hamstrings to avoid further tears and it seemed to work with him sizzling through 20 games in the regular season, the first time he had managed that since 2012. As usual, Cyril made the most of his few possessions (15 per game) to kick 35 goals across the entire season and hold his usual Supercoach average of 93. It would be remiss not to mention the Norm Smith medal in the Grand final on the back of 18 possessions, 12 marks, 2 goals and 1000 goal assists (close enough).

PROs: You know what you’ll get from Cyril: He’s averaged between 88 and 100 in his last 6 seasons and he scores well with few possessions.

CONs: Due to that low possession count, he’s unlikely to increase his average and he remains an injury risk.

Verdict: Once again, there’s better value out there. He’s good to watch though!


Rookies <$200K

With the loss of Jarryd Roughead (Forward, $520,200), an opportunity arises for a couple of young forwards.

James Sicily – F – $222,900

2015 Av. 59 from 3 games – debut year.

Vest: 1 Green: subbed on late Q1, round 2 against Essendon.

2015: Sicily debuted early in the year as a late inclusion for Sam Mitchell against Essendon (round 2). He looked ok playing as a lead up forward with 10 possessions, one goal and 41 SC points but he was dropped the following week. At VFL level his form was inconsistent, being held goalless and hardly touching the ball some weeks, but then kicking bags of goals with 2 bags of 5 goals and one bag of 8 goals across the season. After that 8 goal haul, Sicily returned to the AFL for rounds 22 (Brisbane) and 23 (Carlton), where he looked ok with 28 possessions, 10 marks and 3 goals across the two weeks. This lead to SC scores of 84 and 52.

PROs: Sicily is quick, knows how to find the ball and is a strong mark for his size (186cm). He kicked 30 goals in the VFL in 2015 and pushed up the ground when he was struggling to impact games which allowed him to gather more than 20 touches on several occasions and give off 19 score assists across the season.

CONs: He’s a bit short to play the lead-up gorilla role that the Hawks require with the loss of Roughie and the Hawks forward line is so stacked with talent that they may chose not to elevate any forwards from the VFL.

Verdict: Preseason watch to see how Clarko chooses to replace Roughie.


Tim O’Brien – F – $123,900

2015 Av. DNP

Past (2014): 39 from 4 games.

2015: It was a development year in the VFL for O’Brien where he was used in both defence and attack. Due to the depth that Hawthorn boasts in attack, he was unable to earn a game ahead of fellow tall forwards Gunston, Roughead, Shoenmakers and Sicily.

PROs: Now that Roughead is injured, O’Brien has his chance. He’s taller than Sicily (193cm versus 186cm), he’s put on some weight and he’s entering his third year so watch this space.

CONs: Unless he lifts in the preseason, he may remain behind Sicily in the pecking order or the Hawks may just use McEvoy in the tall forward role and leave O’Brien in the VFL to develop further. Even if he plays he doesn’t win a lot of possessions.

Verdict: Watch the Hawks structure. If they choose to play one more tall O’Brien may be a bench option.



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6 thoughts on “Team review – Hawthorn”

  1. Sicily or O’Brien for mine. One of them will be stepping into the forward slot. O’Brien looks the better long term, but just behind in the pecking order.

    Bet they wish they still had Simpkin. Or Anderson.

    Ceglar will rise, but he’ll get stuck in the awkward zone.

    Hartung is potentially a good step up, but at 300 there’s better value cows.

    Brand or Heatherley could make good downgrade defenders.


  2. No Hawks in my first team draft. Entertained the thought of Gunston when Roughead went down. If you think he may be stuck up forward more then I might just leave it. Good luck with the four-peat!



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