Win (or Lose) Gard

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Chad Wingard was a dual All-Australian, 26 years old and a boom recruit when he came across to the Hawks at the end of 2018 after the Hawks had (for the second time in three years) lost in straight sets 

His Hawthorn career has seen him play 57 games for 59 goals, have two top-six finishes in the Peter Crimmins Medal and have an average of 17.37 disposals. 

Jay Clark (aka Jay-Z) from the Herald Sun reported that of the Hawks veterans, Wingard was the most gettable so we got fellow Talking Hawks writers Timmy and Smithy together, to give their takes on what the Hawks do with the former Port star. 

Keep Chad – Timmy Newman 

Let me start by saying I am a massive fan of Chad Wingard. 

There’s a personal feeling of being in the minority when it comes to Chad, as he is one of the more polarising and divisive quality players we’ve had at Hawthorn in a long time.

Mercurial, sublime and incredibly talented but has been injury prone in his time at Waverley Park. 

Having played 57 of a possible 82 games means as supporters, there’s either a love or loathe feeling about him. 

One thing that can not be denied about him however is his immense talent and football IQ, which are so invaluable to a rebuilding team that 29-year-old Wingard exudes.

Firstly, his ability to influence a game are qualities that don’t grow on trees and these are a precious commodity to have on a team list as we make our march towards premiership glory.

Chad Wingard of the Hawks thanks fans as he leaves the field after the round nine AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Richmond Tigers at...
Chad has been maligned for fans and his future is up for debate in 2023 | Getty Images

We don’t have to look too far back in the rearview mirror to see what a fully fit Wingard offers to the team.

In 2021, Chad played 16 games for the season, amassing just shy of 24 touches a game, while having a hand in 7.1 score involvements on average, which was top ten in the competition.

He placed 3rd in the Peter Crimmins Medal, which was two spots higher than his finish in 2020. 

You don’t poll strongly in consecutive years in the best and fairest if you are a passenger to the side.

2022 is not the season that we wanted to see from the No.20, due to an injury-riddled pre-season that impacted his ability to be rotated through the midfield for more than five-minute periods per quarter. 

However, this year in his 10 games, he has kicked 17 goals and his 1.7 average has him as above average for a general forward.

Who could forget the Richmond game in round 9 where he was thrown in the middle as Hawthorn made a daring comeback to try and share an unlikely victory? 

His poise and vision in stoppages and centre bounces, plus his ability to win centre clearances, led to us scoring three quick goals to narrow the score to 10 points with three minutes to play.

Plays like these don’t just happen and you must be incredibly talented and able to read the play better than others to impact it, which is what Chad does best.

Secondly, Wingard is also a required player on our list next year, especially if reports about Karl Amon coming to Hawthorn are correct.

Karl and Chad played together at Port Adelaide and you feel he would’ve been telling Karl about how fantastic Hawthorn is and why it would be the perfect fit for him.

Chad Wingard of the Hawks runs out onto the field during the round 7 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Melbourne Demons at GIANTS Stadium...
In his 57 games so far, Wingard has given his all for the Hawks and his sublime skills add to an already talented front half | Getty Images

You imagine Amon would be looking forward to playing in a team with his former Port Adelaide brethren in Jarman Impey and Chad, so trading Chad out doesn’t seem like the best decision the club could make. 

Chad has been resting, recuperating and preparing himself for the final year of his contract and we’ve seen James Sicily and Jack Gunston have long layoffs and be dominant in periods of 2022. 

He has the power to impact and influence games, while his high football IQ is vitally important to impart to our young brigade coming through.

In Chad I trust!

Trade Chad – Jake Smith 

Like Tim, I am also a massive fan of Chad Wingard and was incredibly excited when Hawthorn acquired him in 2018. 

However, I don’t want my personal feelings towards a player to influence my opinion on list management. 

Therefore, the Hawks need to seek the appropriate value for the man known as “The Chad”. 

I am going to emphasise; that this should only be done for the appropriate value. 

Under no circumstances should we be giving away this man for anything less than a top 35 pick.

When looking at the Hawthorn team who played in the win over Gold Coast, the average age was 23.4 years old. 

Chad Wingard of the Hawks celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2022 AFL Round 13 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Hawthorn Hawks at...
In Wingard’s 57 games, he’s kicked 59 goals and loved all of them | Getty Images

This suggests that the list isn’t ready to contend for another couple of years and realistic Hawks fans acknowledge that.

Given there’s an article in which the green light was given to the reported Karl Amon deal during the week by yours truly, there is a key difference between Wingard and Amon. 

Wingard has missed 18 games over the last two seasons with soft tissue injuries, whilst Amon has not missed a game through injury since 2019.

While it is necessary to have veterans on the list for rebuilding sides, it is also necessary that these veterans can protect the youth by being available to play.

I think Wingard is an extraordinarily talented player, which is why I think we should seek a trade. 

A team in a premiership window such as Collingwood could potentially offer a second-round pick for the X-Factor that could put them over the hump, especially if Jordan De Goey goes to St.Kilda or Geelong. 

The Giants’ second-round pick at the time of writing (if North Melbourne gets Pick 19 as a priority selection) would be Pick 22, which would be unreal in a straight-up trade, or if the Hawks bundle up Pick 63 (Gold Coast’s fourth-round pick) or a future third and Chad, going into the draft with (at time of writing) Pick 6, 22, 25 and 50 (Hawthorn have Fremantle’s third rounder), the Hawks would be in an uber strong position, especially if the Hawks give up a future fourth round selection to get into this draft as per necessary to match a bid on father-son talent Jerome Lawrence, who looks a third-round selection.

With second-round picks Connor MacDonald and Sam Butler playing a lot of football in year one, fans can be confident our list managers can pick a talent to compete immediately.

For 2023, Wingard is a better option than say, a Pick 22. 

For the next premiership team, we’ve got a chance to grow and develop a piece that will take us to the promised land. 

Chad is an awesome person and excitement machine on the field and if this was to happen I wish him nothing but luck, but this is the best decision for the Hawks.

Hawks prepare to take to the field during the round 11 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Hawthorn Hawks at Sydney Cricket Ground on May...
Wingard has been a great Indigenous ambassador for the Hawthorn Football Club and is a role model for all young Indigenous Hawks fans.

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