“This sort of stuff… is so deflating for the rest of the team.”
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has praised mid-season arrival Jai Newcombe’s seamless transition to AFL, while dismissing as “garbage” reports that Tom Mitchell could be traded.
The Hawks snapped a five-game losing streak on Friday night, recording a 38-point upset win over Sydney at the SCG.
Newcombe made an instant impact with 14 tackles, more than any other debutant in history. It capped a whirlwind week for the 20-year-old, who was playing for the club’s VFL outfit Box Hill prior to being picked up in the mid-season draft.
Clarkson was suitably impressed with the hard-nosed midfielder.
“He had more tackles than possessions, that was the intensity we needed to play with,” he said.
“He is just such a grounded kid. He is a country lad. He loves his footy, loves his teammates, and we just thought he was ready.
“We’re really pleased he made his debut in this game… and performed so well.
“It just took a little bit of pressure off the other midfielders for us in (Jaeger) O’Meara and (Tom) Mitchell, who have carried the load for some time for our footy club.”
Newcombe thanked VFL coach Sam Mitchell for helping ready him for the rigours of AFL.
“I didn’t really see myself in this position. I am very happy and lucky,” Newcombe told Seven.
Former Swan Tom Mitchell also starred on Friday night, winning a game-high 34 possessions (16 contested).
It was Mitchell’s first match since Fox Sports claimed he was open to a trade at season’s end.
“It’s just pure speculation that comes up this time of year with most players… one per cent of it is true,” Clarkson said.
“The rest of it is garbage. I’m taking it as the 99 per cent garbage.”
Clarkson expects late omission Ned Reeves (ankle) to be available for the Hawks’ next clash with Essendon, although he will struggle to dislodge on-song replacement Jonathon Ceglar from the side.
Clarkson is upbeat Mitchell Lewis will also be available after a mishap in a sparring session meant he failed to make the trip to Sydney.
“Boxing is part of our program every week,” Clarkson said.
“That was just an unfortunate incident.
“Mitch zigged when he should have zagged, just got a knock.”