The arrival of Karl Amon at Hawthorn has finally been sealed, with the 27-year-old unrestricted free agent departing Port Adelaide after nine seasons with the club.
Signing a four-year contract, Amon will be looking to extend his current 124 games played at AFL level at the Hawks.
Now destined to wear the brown and gold for 2023 and beyond, what role will Amon play in Sam Mitchell’s pursuit to propel the Hawks back up the ladder?
Accustomed to a role on the wing, Amon’s penetrating left boot and blistering speed have long been the hallmarks of his game. These two traits appear to fit Hawthorn’s on-field needs.
Arguably in the prime of his career, Amon established himself as a consistent performer for Port Adelaide over the past few seasons. In 2022, he averaged an equal career-best 23.6 disposals, 5.3 score involvements, and 487.8 metres gained per game.
A Round 2 meeting against the Hawks saw Amon collect a career-high 38 disposals (22 kicks and 16 handballs), offering Hawthorn’s recruitment team a first-hand account of his ball-winning capabilities.
A testament to his durability, Amon also hasn’t missed an AFL game since Round 15 2019.
Filling a void
Following the departure of three-time premiership player Isaac Smith at the end of 2020, the Hawks have been searching for a suitable replacement on the wing.
With Alastair Clarkson at the helm, Hawthorn picked up Tom Scully at the end of 2018. Scully represented the Hawks on 35 occasions, before ultimately retiring in early 2021.
Meanwhile, after playing every game of the 2021 season, recruit Tom Phillips fell out of favour under new coach Sam Mitchell this year, only selected four times at AFL level. This culminated in the 26-year-old being delisted last month.
It now appears that Amon represents Mitchell’s ideal left-footed candidate to roam the wings of the MCG.
If this season’s grand final is anything to go by, a damaging winger could go a long way to achieving the ultimate prize.
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Need for speed
Given his proven success on the wing, Amon will likely predominantly adopt this position during his time with Hawthorn. The Hawks seem to have settled on Harry Morrison as their preferred opposite winger, with the 23-year-old recently inking a new two-year deal with the club.
The pair will now look to work in tandem over the coming seasons to help drive Hawthorn towards a return to finals football.
However, it also wouldn’t be surprising to see Amon potentially deployed at centre bounces. At times, the Hawks have lacked explosiveness away from stoppage, often exposed by the premier midfielders in the competition.
Amon’s long kicking and breakaway speed could complement the inside grunt of fellow midfielders Jai Newcombe, Jaeger O’Meara, and Tom Mitchell.
In a similar vein, Amon wouldn’t look out of place at half-back. Nevertheless, the Hawks have an abundance of options in that part of the ground, including the likes of Jack Scrimshaw, Changkouth Jiath, and Will Day.
Complements the game style
The footy public has now had one full season to gauge Sam Mitchell’s new game style.
All early signs indicate that Mitchell has the Hawks committed to a game plan which encourages aggressive ball movement and swift transition into the forward half. Statistically, Hawthorn ranked second for rebound 50s last season.
This attacking approach lends itself to the attributes Amon possesses, with his fleet of foot and booming kick likely to complement the run and gun style of play showcased by the Hawks in 2022.
It could even spark Amon to elevate his game to another level, seeing him flourish with greater freedom and licence to use his weapons.
At 27 years of age, some may question whether Amon’s signature aligns with Hawthorn’s direction, especially given the club’s current development phase.
However, whilst the club will undoubtedly be looking to add more youth to its ranks through the draft, there still remains a need for experience within the playing group.
The retirements of Ben McEvoy and Liam Shiels in combination with the departure of Jack Gunston to Brisbane leaves Hawthorn with one of the most inexperienced sides in the AFL.
Aside from Tom Mitchell (29 years old), Chad Wingard (29,) and Jaeger O’Meara (28), Hawthorn boasts a youthful midfield brigade with limited AFL games under their belt. This includes the likes of Conor Nash (24), Harry Morrison (23), Dylan Moore (23), Jai Newcombe (21), Finn Maginness (21), Josh Ward (19), and Connor MacDonald (19).
Amon’s arrival at Waverley Park somewhat helps to bridge this gap between the youngsters and the more seasoned campaigners on the list.
It wouldn’t be naïve to believe that Amon has his best years of football ahead of him.
Hawthorn will certainly be hoping so.
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