I know I said I’d be doing Fremantle but I forgot to do a Hawthorn review. We first start with what worked (hint – not the coaching handover), what didn’t work, remaining questions, and the solutions to those problems.
The Hawthorn Hawks finished 14th on the ladder in season 2021.
They had seven wins and two draws. The Hawks lost eight of 13 games by three goals or more. Remarkably, they had two draws, the first one coming in Round 18 against the Demons. Their second draw came in Alastair Clarkson’s last game as coach of Hawthorn in Round 23, against his good mate Damien Hardwick.
In a nutshell, it was a fairly disappointing season for the Hawks. They did finish well though and there is a good base for them to tackle their pre-season in season 2022. They won five games, drew two games and only lost four of their last 11 games following the bye in Round 12. In their last four games they were undefeated and two of the three teams they beat were good teams, as the Lions and the Bulldogs were in the top echelon of teams in season 2021.
The Hawks’ key defenders were forced to stand up in the absence of their best defender James Sicily. It created opportunities for the likes of Sam Frost and Kyle Hartigan having to stand up in Sicily’s absence. The emergence of youngsters Changkuoth Jiath, Jai Newcombe and Lachlan Bramble as well as Mitchell Lewis and Jacob Koschitzke, just to name a few, was a positive for the Hawks to take out of season 2021.
To be eligible for selection, it’s essential that each player selected featured in at least five games in season 2021. Here are the five players and an honourable mention selected, which the Hawks could least afford to lose based on their performances in season 2021.
Honourable mention: Mitchell Lewis
Lewis had an impressive season in 2021 as he averaged the most contested marks of any Hawks player with an average of 1.79 contested marks in the 14 games that he featured in. He averaged the second most goals of any Hawks player with an average of 1.57 goals per game. He kicked at least one goal in the 14 games that he featured in.
5. Lachlan Bramble
Bramble played the Hawks’ last ten games of season 2021. He was a revelation. His disposal efficiency was impressive as he used the ball, as his average disposal efficiency was 79.78 per cent. He averaged 18.30 disposals in the ten games he featured in. The Hawks only lost 40 per cent of games with Bramble in the team, compared with 75 per cent without him being a part of the Hawks team. He averaged the most metres gained of any Hawks player with an average of 417.50 metres gained, which highlights the fact that he was willing to take the game on.
4. Sam Frost
Frost had an average of 7.82 intercepts per game in season 2021, which was the most on average of any Hawks player and the eighth most on average of any player in the competition. He was forced to step up as the Hawks’ key defender James Sicily was injured for the entire season in 2021. He averaged the fifth most contested marks of any Hawks player with an average of 1.27 contested marks on average, per game.
3. Chad Wingard
Wingard had a consistent season in 2021. He had the most inside 50s of any of the Hawks’ players on average with an average of 4.75 inside 50s per game in season 2021. He had the most score involvements on average of any Hawks player and the 11th most of any player in the competition with an average of 7.06 score involvements per game. He may have only featured in 16 games due to injury, but the Hawks had six of their seven wins with him in the team along with one of their two draws. They lost 66.67 per cent of games when he didn’t play compared with 56.25 per cent when he featured in the Hawks’ team.
2. Jonathon Ceglar
Ceglar was a bit of a barometer for the Hawks as they won five games and had a draw in another game in the 12 games that he featured in during season 2021. They only lost 50 per cent of games with him in the team. Remarkably, they lost seven out of ten games without him in the team, which equates to 70 per cent. Incredibly, he averaged the third most contested possessions of any Hawks player with an average of 9.33 contested possessions per game. He had a disposal efficiency percentage of 78.87 per cent and exactly 15 disposals per game, which is respectable for a ruckman. Impressively, he averaged the third most contested marks with an average of 1.58 contested marks per game.
1. Tom Mitchell
Mitchell averaged the most disposals of any player in the competition during the home-and-away season with an average of 34.32 disposals per game. He was the only Hawks player in the AFL All Australian squad of 40 for season 2021. He was the Hawks’ best player in season 2021 and would be the most difficult to replace. Along with that, he averaged the third most score involvements of any player with an average of 5.36 score involvements per game. He had the second highest number of centre clearances as well as the second most clearances on average, both behind Jaeger O’Meara. Above all else he knew how to find the footy, but still worked hard defensively with an average of 4.86 tackles per game, which was the third highest of any Hawks player on average.