Rnd 1 Preview: Hopping into 2022

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We are back in 2022, footy is in the air, on our screens and our previews are back in full flight! 

We hope you enjoy these throughout the season as the Hawks embark on their 2022 campaign. 

It’s certainly a new generation at Hawthorn from five draftees, 28 players under 25 and of course, Sam Mitchell. 

From a positional point of view, getting last year’s wooden spooners is a win already for the Hawks to give the group a jolt of confidence to kick themselves into gear but that might not be the case here. 


Hawthorn – 12.8.80 

Kangaroos – 13.9.87 

The Hawks kicked out to a five goal lead early in the second quarter before the Roos completely took over. 

An 8.7 to 4.4 second half got the Roos their first win of 2021, with Jy Simpkin (38 disposals) and Ben Cunnington (37) the main culprits. 

For the Hawks, Blake Hardwick and Tom Mitchell had 28 disposals each and recently delisted James Cousins had a career best day, with 23 disposals and 2.2. 

Ben Cunnington of the Kangaroos contests the ball during the round 9 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at...
James Cousins fights for the mark with Ben Cunnington in 2021 – Getty Images

Team News: 

SuperFooty and Jon Ralph reported on Wednesday morning that the Hawks got hit with COVID positive cases, with Luke Breust and skipper Ben McEvoy those being affected and missing Sunday’s clash. 

With McEvoy out, the Hawks will look to their future ruck combination in Max Lynch and Ned Reeves. 

There is an air of a blessing in disguise as any glimpse of the future will only be a good thing in the long term.

With Breust out, Tyler Brockman is the kingpin of the small forwards with Dylan Moore being a hybrid half forward and another look to the future. 

The Hawks welcome back Changkuoth Jiath in the famous No.9 jumper made famous by Colin Robertson, Robert Dipierdomenico, Shane Crawford and most recently, Shaun Burgoyne. 

We also welcome back James Sicily for his first game since he went down with a torn ACL at Optus Stadium nineteen months ago and he austonatically becomes one of (if not) the most important Hawks for 2022. 

On the debutant front, a trio of future Hawks stars with 2021 draftees Josh Ward (Pick 7) and Connor MacDonald (Pick 26) hitting the MCG all systems ahead and former Pie Max Lynch makes his brown and gold debut, up against Tods Goldstein and Callum-Coleman Jones. 

Josh Ward and Connor MacDonald of the Hawks battle for the ball during a Hawthorn Hawks AFL training session at Bunjil Bagora on November 29, 2021 in...
Josh Ward and Connor MacDonald will debut on Sunday – Getty Images

How do the Hawks win? 

Being the bottom side, North didn’t do a lot well in 2021 and those inadequacies can still be exploited at the MCG. 

North were ranked last for forward 50 retention in 2021, meaning that when the Roos get the ball inside 50, they don’t keep it there, allowing the ball to exit the area with ease. 

Fortunately for the Hawks, with Jiath, Scrimshaw, DGB and even Harry Morrison rebounding from half back, the Hawks will be able to set up attacking plays from the back half which was a notable strength in the back half of 2021.

With the loss of Robbie Tarrant, the Roos key back spots do not have a similar look to them. Ben McKay is a young developing back but Mitch Lewis and Jacob Koschitzke should be knowing they’re better and attacking contests with vigour. 

North were a bottom four team for conceding inside 50’s, so in the arcs the Hawks are infinitely the better team, especially with the class of Jack Gunston, Luke Breust and Chad Wingard in the attacking half. 

As much as every footy fan wants Ben Cunnington back on the park and healthy as soon as he can, him not being there is a tick for the Hawks. 

Whilst Hugh Greenwood is still a good pickup, Tom Mitchell will thrive around the contest and it’s up to the Hawks to take advantage of his dominance. 



Not to sound like a broken record but North had a 44 point turnaround last time we played due to midfield dominance and it will decide the game here. 

Jy Simpkin, Tarryn Thomas, Luke Davies-Uniacke, Will Phillips, Jason Horne-Francis and Jaidyn Stephenson have all got pace at and separating from the contest so if they get on top, the Hawks are in trouble. 

Nick Larkey tripled his goal output last season and whilst he’s not kicking 135 goals this season to do it again, he looks fit, fresh and ready to put another good season together. 

He looks extra dangerous on the lead so Sam Frost is the logical matchup, with Kyle Hartigan taking the backup ruck (Xerri, Coleman-Jones or Goldstein) and using his frame to nullify contests. 

Jack Gunston of the Hawks looks on during a Hawthorn Hawks AFL training session at Waverley Park on April 16, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia.
Jack Gunston returns to the seniors on Sunday – Getty Images

Talking Hawks Spotlight: 

Jack Gunston 

The 2020 best and fairest winner is back and fully fit which is a sight for sore eyes amongst fans and he has a real opportunity to kick his campaign off to a really good start. 

With no Jacob Koschitzke, Jack needs goals to take advantage of a poor North defensive unit and we are backing him to do so.

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