Six Hawthorn injuries removed the contest from this contest as the Blues ran riot in the last quarter.
Okay, so you all know I’m a Hawthorn supporter so this may sound like whinging, but let me lay this list on you.
Injuries in this game:
Stephen Gilham – cleared of what looked like a PCL injury but the bone bruising will take 4-8 weeks to heal, meaning round 2 to 6 for his return
Campbell Brown – sprained ankle, two to three weeks, will be underdone for round 1
Grant Birchall – hamstring, three weeks, will be underdone for round 1
Robert Campbell – kidney and/or rib injury to add to recovery from offseason wrist surgery
Matt Suckling – hamstring, didn’t return after half time
Josh P. Kennedy – AC joint injury, played on in Q4
Injuries from previous games:
Trent Croad – broken foot, returning some time before the midseason break but not likely before round 6
Tim Boyle – only just resumed training after a long-term back injury, indefinite
Xavier Ellis – multiple surgeries on his hip, round 1 is out of the question and round 6 more likely
Rick Ladson – knee surgery, conflicting reports of his ETA but midpoint seems to be round 3
Luke Hodge – will not play preseason due to torn labrum, doubtful for round 1 with round 3 more likely
Jordan Lewis – somewhere between rounds 1 and 3 with his torn labrum
Lance Franklin – anywhere from a triumphant round 1 return with 10 goals straight to being convicted as the new Mr Asia, according to who you listen to… shoulder and hand surgery in the offseason complicated by an infection picked up surfing in Bali (idiot!)
Thomas Murphy – The Age claims he’s fit but he missed the first two NAB games with injury
Michael Osborne – picked up a knee injury against Melbourne and didn’t play this week
Chance Bateman – injured a hamstring last week and pulled up sore after the Blues game… just the sort of thing that leads to long-term problems
Shane Savage and Carl Peterson – undisclosed injuries that have kept them out of the NAB so far.
B: Murphy, Croad, Suckling
HB: Birchall, Gilham, Ellis
C: Savage, Bateman, Kennedy
HF: Osborne, Boyle, Ladson
FF: Brown, Franklin, Peterson
R: Campbell, Hodge, Lewis
Not a bad 18, including 13 premiership players! Four of those premiership players are confirmed out for round 1, with a further eight doubtful. When you add the retired Shane Crawford, that is a nestful of potentially absent Hawks. This feels a bit like 1990 to me, when the Hawks had such a major effort to beat Geelong in 1989 leaving their playing group decimated by lingering injuries. Hawthorn’s list this time around is a lot younger, of course, but I suspect the Hawks are going to struggle in the first six weeks of the season, with a 2-4 start about par score. Their draw opens up after that, and they should tune up through the middle and later stages of the season for another finals run, but it’s not going to be pretty early on.
That means there are plenty of spots up for grabs, with the proviso that a lot of younger players will only have a window of two to six weeks to impress. One who has already booked in his position in the Hawk firsts is Travis Tuck, who I now see locked in as the 22nd player on the list. Even when the senior players return over the first six weeks, I expect him to maintain his spot, barring injury of the sort that crueled his 2008. I expect Ben McGlynn, Cameron Stokes, Jarryd Morton and Josh P. Kennedy to all play in round 1, though their stat sheets and performance reviews from those games will decide how long they will stay in the team, unlike Tuck.
The backline is where the Hawks are hurting the most, however, which throws up some interesting prospects. Mitch Thorp seems destined to play somewhere in the Hawthorn defence even if he has hardly set the world on fire playing back in the preseason. Then again he didn’t do all that well up forward against Carlton either, being paid no respect by opponents like Jarrad Waite who zoned off him to bring numbers to combat Jarryd Roughead. We didn’t see either Ryan Schoenmakers or Jordan Lisle this week, which makes the next two NAB Challenge games interesting.
On the Blues side – yes, there was another team out there! – fantasy scores were much the same as last week, with Bryce Gibbs dominating, Mitch Robinson doing as much as you could hope for from a draftee, and Ryan Houlihan and Brendan Fevola getting plenty of quality ball on a silver platter from the Blues midfield. Waite swung from the backline to the forwards at one point during the match, but collected more stats in the backline zoning off the ineffective Hawks smaller forwards. He is a smokie to join the top 10 backs this year, if not top 7, if Carlton can make the zone work for them and allow him to play the Hodge role. It was noticeable in the quarterly numbers that Bret Thornton‘s fantasy score jumped hugely in the third quarter when Waite was at the other end.
Sam Jacobs compiled a decent application to be elevated from the rookie list, though I would discount Cameron Cloke‘s numbers at half forward given the complete lack of fit opposition towards the end fo the game. Greg Bentley did nothing wrong either, furthering his cause as first cab off the rank from the rookies. I can’t help but think that Jefferey Garlett‘s prospects are only this strong as long as Chris Yarran‘s fitness is still in question. If Yarran puts in some good numbers some time during the NAB then Garlett’s chance will be shelved for a while.