Six young opposition players the Hawks should target for 2022

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Written by Rhys Knight

Heading full throttle into a rebuild, the Hawks need to take some pages out of the Tom Phillips book that Hawthorn wrote, by targeting talent and not giving up much.

This talent will need to be younger than ‘Flip’, who isn’t old at 24, but in order for the Hawks to accelerate young talent, they obviously need to go to the 2021 end of season draft and stock up on top end youth that’s clearly needed at the Ricoh Centre.

Getting that quality of youth using third and fourth round picks mightn’t be the highest priority, currently Hawthonr are without a third round pick in the 2021 Draft, so some work around might be required and it’d be worth it if these half a dozen kids could go to a new level with consistent senior footy.

These rankings are based on an opinion of what impact these young men could have at the Hawks. 

#6 – Bailey Williams (West Coast) 

Ruck/Forward 

200cm/96kg 

Age: 21 

Games: 4 

The No.32 at the Eagles had his first game of the season against the Hawks so fans would have seen him in action with eight score involvements, five marks (two contested) and nine touches and with clubs running with two rucks, usually one experienced and one with youth (think Stefan Martin and Tim English, Max Gawn and Luke Jackson, Patty Ryder and Rowan Marshall) or just one youth (Marc Pittonet, Reilly O’Brien, Essendon have a couple they’re rotating, Sean Darcy for Fremantle) but the Hawks running with their system isn’t working. 

Skipper Ben McEvoy isn’t moving like he has in time gone by and with Ned Reeves not setting the world on fire and has a dodgy ankle, the Hawks could absolutely go after a young ruck. With Oscar Allen absolutely not in the running to leave as Geelong chased him extremely hard in the Tim Kelly trade but Williams is behind Nic Naitanui, Nathan Vardy and Oscar Allen as ruck options and could be a consistent best 22 player at the Hawks. 

#5 – Ely Smith (Brisbane)

Midfielder/Forward

187cm/91kg 

Age: 20 

Games: 0 

Anyone that plays Fantasy might have a shudder in their soul at the mention of Smith given he’s been a pre-season favourite but hasn’t gotten on the park but he would be a ripper at the Hawks. 

A 6’1 big body midfielder who can hit the scoreboard sounds beautiful and with the 91kg size (for reference, he’s 3cm and 5kg heavier than James Worpel), he’s had a few pre-seasons under his belt and can be ripe and ready. 

Unfortunate ankle injuries has hindered his 2021 campaign but in his first competitive outfit for the year, in a scratch match against Aspley, he had 14 disposals and three goals in a half before being an emergency for the seniors, Smith could add plenty of grunt that’s missing to add to not just the depth of the midfield but does give size and grunt so he’s bringing something different. 

#4 – Josh Worrell (Adelaide) 

Key defender 

194cm/94kg 

Age: 20 

Games: 0 

With Michael Hartley and Sam Frost being 27 and Kyle Hartigan on a two year deal following the completion of the season, could a youthful spine of Koschitzke, Lewis, Worpel, Grainger-Barras and Worrall propel the Hawks forward for the future? 

Personally, absolutely and going down this route would mean saying goodbye to Hartley who hasn’t put a foot wrong it must be said but is out of contract at the end of the year but a defence of Hardwick, DGB, Scrimshaw, CJ, Worrell and Impey is a tantalising one, especially with Will Day and Tom Phillips on the wings, James Sicily and Frost/Hartigan around as well down back, that’s exciting.

#3 – Brodie Kemp (Carlton) 

Midfielder 

193cm/81kg 

Age: 20 

Games: 0 

You have to be a good talent to have your ACL shattered in your draft year and still go in the first round but that was the fate of Kemp when Carlton read out his name with Pick 17 in the 2019 Draft and the injury of much popularity – syndesmosis – seeped in and is robbing the gun Blue of a start to his career. 

So what can he bring to the Hawks? Well, a 6’3 utility who impressed in his Under 18 year with midfield bursts and forward ventures, including kicking a match winner over South Australia. The Hawks would build his fitness up as a hybrid forward who will eventually be a bull in the midfield. Yes please. 

Carlton’s salary cap squeeze is in full effect so the Hawks mightn’t have to give up much to get him but this could be the best under the radar pickup the Hawks in years. 

#2 – Dylan Stephens (Sydney) 

Midfielder 

184cm/78kg 

Age: 20 

Games: 10 

The number two selection goes to a player who was a top five pick, a player the Hawks loved in his draft year, had a year in the seniors and has played ten games of AFL experience already. Draft reports on Stephens that made the Hawks love him in his draft year was his ball use which has been his trademark. 

Like most youth who can’t get a game, he just has too many ahead of him, not a lack of talent on his side. His numbers in the AFL aren’t the most flattering but this is risking some sand to get the beach in and is going to be a very good player, why not have another silky outside mid with an elite left boot? 

Between a niggle, emergency duties and playing two games (one as sub) for the Swans, in the reserves game he did play against the Suns, he had 32 touches, seven marks, six inside 50’s, five tackles and a couple of rebounds. Anyone else salivating? 

#1 – Charlie Constable (Geelong) 

Midfielder 

191cm/86kg 

Age: 22

Games: 9 

The number one selection goes to the next big thing in Geelong. Teammate Lachie Fogarty has shown that the Cats’ young talent is both gettable and talented when he landed at the Blues for a pick swap and is playing some very good footy. 

Constable is one of those players that this author likes more than most fans do and perhaps puts on a higher pedestal than most, however, facts are going to run this show and not inflated opinions. 

Constable has been a victim of superstars ahead of him, not lack of talent. He’s had 75 disposals in his three VFL matches so far, in his nine AFL games, he averages just over 20 touches, four tackles and four marks and if those numbers for a six-foot two midfielder who’s 22 isn’t something that the Hawks could need, I’ll go heed. 

None of these players are going to be quick fixes, in fact, there is no quick fix. However, these kinds of players can be genuinely great pieces in the Hawthorn rebuilding puzzle and wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

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