This is the next of our submitted Club Dream Team Previews. Thanks to Thommo for sending this one in! You will receive a stubby holder and if your article is one of the two that gets the most Facebook “Likes’ (just above this blurb), you’ll get yourself an AFL Prospectus! Read on!
Hawthorn, the team constantly expected to do great things, has reached the crossroads. So too have many of the players now reaching their early to mid-twenties. 2011 is the year which will either showcase how good Hawthorn really is, or condemn the club as grand final pretenders. High draft picks – Xavier Ellis, Grant Birchall and Schoenmakers – and the stars of the 2008 – Jarryd Roughead, Jordan Lewis, Clinton Young and Rick Ladson – will carry the fortune of a team that has relied for too long on the hard work of a few core players such as Hodge and Mitchell. If these second tier players recapture the brilliance they have displayed fleetingly, Hawthorn will finish top four. If they don’t, the Hawks will stagnate at the wrong end of the eight until the Gold Coast juggernaut overhauls all above them in 2013/14. Word from the inner sanctum tells of a team embarrassed with their fall from prominence through injury, poor form and a bad game plan, not to mention the dismal loss to Fremantle in last year’s elimination final. Judging by the latter half of the 2010 season, expect a fast start to 2011 from Hawthorn and plenty more Dreamteam points.
The Hawks are part of the multibye in Round 6, and have their second private bye in Round 17. If you ignore the away game against Adelaide in Round 1, Hawthorn has an easy run early so should start strong.
Last year Hawthorn had several undervalued players due to an injury riddled 2009 season with Luke Hodge the pick of the bunch. This year however, Hawthorn doesn’t seem to have much obvious Dreamteam value.
There is little to like about Hawthorn’s backline in Dreamteam. Few people will chose defenders from Hawthorn, with the following possible exceptions. Cameron Bruce is a proven Dreamteam scorer at Melbourne, but it is hard to judge how age and the move to Hawthorn will effect his scores. Considering the number of small backline players Hawthorn has, it is possible Bruce may be used in the forward line with short forays into the midfield this year, so check his preseason role before committing. Xavier Ellis is a high draft pick that has always threatened to have a break-out season, but injuries have held him back. As a junior he was a ball magnet and in the 2008 grand final he amassed 28 possessions so we know he is capable of big scores. After a relatively injury free 2010, and entering his fifth season he is sure to improve this year, but there is probably safer selections out there. Grant Birchall is a consistent scorer who should improve slightly in his sixth season, although he is unlikely to amass huge totals. He has indicated he wants a spot in the midfield, but is unlikely to ever achieve that goal. Kyle Cheney was targeted by Hawthorn in 09 and 10 so they seem to rate him highly. He is viewed as a Campbell Brown replacement, but scores better than Brown ever did. It’s hard to know how he will respond to the transfer to Hawthorn, but he’s a strong chance to improve so track his role in the preseason.
The only bench option is Jordan Lisle. Schoenmakers has trained in the forward line this summer, so a tall backman is needed to help Gilham stand the big men, and Gibson, Stratton and Murphy are too short. Lisle is a good chance to fill this role so he could be a good bench option. He is also a dual position player (D/F) to add to his appeal.
Hawthorn midfield appears to have some Dreamteam value this year. If you want consistency consider Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell. First impressions of Luke Hodge indicate he probably won’t improve and you should look elsewhere for a premium midfielder. However he is a proud player and with the mantle of captain, he may explode, or die trying much like Boyd at the Bulldogs. Just watch him for injury; he would rather play with two broken legs than admit to an injury. Sam Mitchell dropped slightly last year and at worst he will hold his value this year. Relinquishing the captaincy will relieve the pressure caused by constant criticism from idiots like Brereton in 2010 and may rejuvenate Sammy in 2011.
The inclusion of Burgoyne and Hodge into the midfield changed the role of some players causing them to drop in value. Jordan Lewis spent more time forward last year, so his possession count dropped while his goal scoring increased, and overall he dropped in DT value. He’s a good chance to improve this year whether he plays midfield or forward and score between 90 and 100 weekly. Like Lewis, Brad Sewell was almost dropped last year and his possession numbers also dropped significantly. He’s on track this preseason to return to his best. Just watch his preseason as he has an uncanny knack for getting injured just before the season starts. After injury in 2010, Liam Shiels struggled to find his way back into the team. He loves to tackle and has dropped significantly in price, so he should improve if he can force his way into the best 22. He is a unique pick, but probably not as good value as some of the first year mature age recruits.
The best bench option at Hawthorn is Isaac Smith. Probably the most talked about mature age recruit of the 2010 draft, Smith is a certainty to play senior footy this year. The only question is how well he accumulates possessions, but he is definitely a player you should consider as your sixth midfielder or first bench player.
A smoky for your bench is Shane Savage. He is a bit of an unknown, but he has survived Hawthorn’s multitude of delistings so should play some senior footy this year.
There is little to like about Hawthorn’s ruckmen in Dreamteam, but perhaps consider David Hale. Hawthorn probably ‘overspent’ on Hale last year, so they must have grand plans for him to relieve Renouf in the ruck and spend a lot of time in the forward line. However he wins few possessions at ground level so he has little Dreamteam value unless he kicks a lot of goals, something unlikely in the same forward line as Buddy and Roughead.
If his body holds up a good bench option is Max Bailey, although it is hard to see how he fits in the team with Hale and Renouf, especially given the new interchange rules.
With all of the delistings last year, it is hard to know who is actually going to play forward for Hawthorn this year with only three players listed as forwards (ignoring DPP). Now that he wins possession up the ground, Lance Franklin has become a valuable Dreamteam addition to any forward line. If you pick him he will score well, but you will spend 22 rounds praying he doesn’t hit anyone in the head. Jarryd Roughead has shown glimpses of his talent, but he is capable of more and may produce it in his sixth year. Or maybe not. It’s hard to know with the big fella. Cyril Rioli struggled with fitness and taggers early last year, but excelled later in the year. However he is a risky choice this year, as Hawthorn’s lack of a crumbing forward may force Cyril to spend more time inside 50.
A possible bench option is Luke Breust. This guy is a gun, but he is only rookie listed and was unable to win a game with the seniors last year. If he is elevated, jump on as Hawthorn needs small forwards.
As a diehard Hawks man, I want to include two Hawks players in my team, but I am struggling to find value picks. There seem to be better options from other teams in every position on the ground. The safest selections seem to be Buddy up forward, providing he avoids suspension, and Smith on the midfield bench. Hodgey is a safe bet to stay consistent, although that may be my man-love speaking. The smoky is Cheney in the backline, although a poor preseason will rule him out.