Today my list analysis and offseason preview series continues with Hawthorn, the club who finished just outside of finals this year, but hasn’t won a September match since the 2015 Grand Final.
Alastair Clarkson’s laser focus on Hawthorn’s next premiership rather than past glory is clearly evident in his decision to hand Changkuoth Jiath an AFL debut instead of granting Jarryd Roughead an AFL goodbye.
The master coach’s ‘hunt for this club’s next piece of silverware’ line has been a regular feature of his press conferences this season and he continues to back up his talk with actions at the selection table.
Jiath was named in the side to face GWS in Canberra on Friday night along with James Cousins and Jonathon Ceglar, with Ben McEvoy (hand) and Grant Birchall (hamstring) out injured and Conor Nash dropped.
With the Hawks unlikely to play finals, that means four-time premiership hero Roughead has just two AFL opportunities left to farewell fans: next week’s clash against Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium and the round 23 encounter with West Coast at Optus Stadium.
“We’d like to think Roughy would play again for us, but whether that’s next week or not, we’ve got to wait and see,” Clarkson said.
“Things happen in games of footy that have to send you down a different direction.
“I’d hate to make a commitment to all and sundry that that’s going to happen, then it doesn’t, so we’ll wait and see what happens with it next week.
“We’re not opposed to it, but nor are we making declarations right now that it’s going to happen either.”
Jiath, 20, is a defender who was born in an Ethiopian refugee camp to South Sudanese parents and joined the club last year as a Category B rookie.
The fifth-placed Giants brought in Adam Kennedy, Jeremy Cameron and Dawson Simpson to replace injured duo Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson and Connor Idun, who was dropped.