Hawthorn’s AFL premiership prospects have suffered a huge blow, with fears Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell will miss the season because of a broken leg.
Mitchell, one of the AFL’s top onballers, suffered the injury on Friday in a training drill – Hawthorn’s first day back in pre-season after the Christmas break.
An ambulance was driven onto their Waverley Park ground and Mitchell was taken to hospital, where scans soon revealed the extent of his injury.
Significantly, the club confirmed the severity as soon as they knew Mitchell would need surgery.
“For Tom to suffer an injury like this is incredibly disappointing for both him and our footy club,” Hawks football boss Graham Wright said in a statement.
“He will undergo surgery over the weekend and, as a result, will most likely miss the 2019 season.
“However, Tom is a very resilient young man and we have no doubt that he will tackle his rehab with the same professionalism and diligence with which he approaches his training.”
The Hawks are likely to release more information early next week about Mitchell after his operation.
Mitchell had a runaway win last September for his first Brownlow. His extended absence will mean a major reshuffling of the Hawthorn midfield.
The Hawks lost their two finals in 2018 to finish fourth, but, after missing the finals the year before, they had been bullish about their prospects this season.
They were busy in the trade period, recruiting injured GWS wingman Tom Scully.
Hawthorn also sent Ryan Burton to Port Adelaide so they could recruit two-time All-Australian Chad Wingard.
Last month, Mitchell spoke of how happy he was that Hawks great Sam Mitchell was returning as an assistant coach.
Tom said he was looking forward to picking the brains of the 2012 joint Brownlow Medallist, seeing his vast expertise as an obvious way to improve further.
Mitchell, 25, has played 111 games since his 2013 debut, joining the Hawks from Sydney after the 2016 season.
Hawthorn’s bad news follows Carlton’s horror run of pre-season injuries before Christmas.
They lost co-captain Sam Docherty for a second-successive year when he needed another knee reconstruction.
Adelaide recruit Mitch McGovern (back) and Jarrod Pickett (knee) were also hurt.