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How to draft a premiership team: The story of Hawthorn’s new golden age

Roar Guru
3rd October, 2014
6

In years to come, some talk about this purple patch that the Hawthorn Football Club are revelling in.

They may say it was due to the wise man at the helm and a group of half a dozen superstars, but in theory, those two aspects are only honourable mentions.

The story of the two successive premierships that have been collected by the Hawks all started back in 2009.

Out of the past seven years, 2009 was the lowest point for Hawthorn, as they failed to make the finals after stunningly rising to fame the year before.

They had been knocked out of the top eight in the last round by the Bombers, who beat the Hawks and rose to eighth, only to get it handed to them in the first elimination final by Adelaide.

But, before that tumultuous season began, the Hawthorn Football Club picked a handful of youngsters that, in different ways, formed a backbone of young players that led to the two triumphs in 2013 and 2014.

Ryan Shoenmakers, Matt Suckling, Brendan Whitecross and Liam Shiels were among the draftees chosen by the then reigning premiers, as Shiels and Suckling went on to win that glorious flag last week, while Whitecross and Shoenmakers led a young side until injuries ruled them out.

In 2010, where the Hawks reached an Elimination Final before getting knocked out by Freo, Ben Stratton was picked, while Josh Gibson was snatched from North Melbourne and Shaun Burgoyne was taken from Port Adelaide.

Stratton went on to become a vital part of the Hawks defence, while Burgoyne and Gibson have become important leaders, while also starring in the two victories.

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As those seven players slowly worked their way up the club, 2011 saw another five players enter the club who now have been recognised as key figures.

Four of them have two premiership medallions at home, with David Hale, Paul Puopolo, Isaac Smith and Luke Breust, along with Kyle Cheney, being recruited to the Hawks.

Another mature age recruit in Hale has played the second ruck and third tall forward role that Leigh Brown did so well at Collingwood in 2010-11. Puopolo and Breust’s goal scoring ability has been profound, along with Smith’s hard gut running and Cheney’s stern defensive abilities have been catalysts in what is a superb team.

In 2012, a huge story broke as young Adelaide tall forward Jack Gunston was taken by Hawthorn. His move now proves worthwhile, with three grand finals and two Premierships going to the former Crow in his three seasons at the club.

Young excitement machine Bradley Hill was also drafted. 2013 was the year where the famed young Hawthorn super machine was completed, with Brian Lake, Jonathon Simpkin, Taylor Duryea, Jed Anderson, Sam Grimley and Will Langford being brought into the club.

Couple those players with the likes of Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Grant Birchall, Brad Sewell, Jordan Lewis, Cyril Rioli and Jarryd Roughead, you have a quality list that will deliver you flags.

My point is that as poor teams like Melbourne, St. Kilda, Brisbane and the Bulldogs all cry foul because they don’t get more draft picks, but they just use their draft picks poorly.

Hawthorn have been one of the last few clubs to draft a player recently, yet they have picked young players that have come in and produced on the big stage (ie. Will Langford, Brad Hill).

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The clubs that pick first normally pick players that either play consistently but not outstandingly, or don’t perform at all and get drafted to another club.

The Hawthorn Hawks are AFL football’s perfect example of how to draft a Premiership team and they have done so to perfection.

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