Coach – Alistair Clarkson
Points For – 11th
Points Against – 16th
Top 5 Best and Fairest
- Jack Gunston
- Tom Mitchell
- Chad Wingard
- Ben McEvoy
- James Worpel
- James Sicily
- Liam Shiels
2020 Rising Star Noms
Will Day (Round 16)
Ins – Kyle Hartigan, Tom Phillips, Denver Grainger-Barras, Seamus Mitchell, Connor Downie, Tyler Brockman, Jack Saunders
Outs – James Frawley, Conor Glass, Will Golds, Ricky Henderson, Harry Jones, Darren MInchington, Paul Puopolo, Jackson Ross, Isaac Smith, Ben Stratton, Mathew Walker
This may be the year when the mass celebration of Clarkson drops off just a little bit. Finishing last year in 15th and having more talent exit than what they gained means they are likely to face another year in the bottom quarter of the ladder. Still relying on players they have traded for or brought in from elsewhere, they now need to start developing their own and it has been a long time since they did that successfully.
The backline loses Stratton and Frawley. The move of McEvoy back there looked good last year but now without experienced KP backs around him, I suspect he is much more likely to be found out much more regularly. Hartigan will step in on the full back line but he is a downgrade. Sam Frost is going to have to carry a greater amount of the work and he is generally a spud with occasional bouts of mediocrity. Scrimshaw looked to be finding his feet last year and played some good games, he should improve more and along with Hardwick will need to lift output. Impey provided ruin and drive from half back but in general, looks a very average back group.
Phillips is a hand addition to their wings and will run all day, not sure he is an upgrade on Smith but will partner well with Scully. Mitchell, Worpel and O’Meara is a pretty good engine room and will give most teams a bit to think about. Mitchell in his second year back after is broken leg is likely to improve on what we saw last year. Not convinced they work well both ways though and will give teams a chance to get on top.
The forward line is potent at its best with Gunston and Patton up front with Wingard and Bruest supporting them. They will miss Puopolo and need someone else to step up in the milking free kicks department. I thought O’Brien showed a bit more last year and think he may really break out this year. Burgoyne started to look a little shot last year and am sure he will still have an impact but it will continue to reduce as time goes on.
There isn’t much to say about Clarkson, clearly one of the best coaches of the modern era but also led a team that took advantage of a system designed to set up new teams. He would want to show that he can build another premiership team but I worry he is starting to look and sound like 2002 Sheedy. The rucks will be interesting this year. Ceglar is a good average ruck. I feel McEvoy is a better more impactful ruck but he is needed down back for now.
I don’t see Hawthorn improving on last year and wonder if this is the year that they start to get run over a little more often. It felt like the cliff was coming for them to fall off and finally last year they teetered over the edge. This year I expect they haven’t hit bottom yet. I think they will finish in the 15-17 range.