Hawthorn has added to its ruck options by securing the signature of Lloyd Meek from the Fremantle Dockers.
Meek makes his way to the Hawks along with a future second-round selection in exchange for midfielder Jaeger O’Meara.
Having been at the club since 2018, Meek has struggled to stake a permanent claim to the ruck spot at the Dockers, with Sean Darcy starring in recent years. He played just 15 games in total across the last two seasons.
The 24-year-old showed some good signs in the games he did play though, averaging 19.5 hit outs across six games in 2022, including a career-high 32 hit outs against the Adelaide Crows in Round 1.
He has also been brilliant all season for Peel Thunder in the WAFL, claiming their best and fairest award for 2022.
With injury issues for both Max Lynch and Ned Reeves at stages this year, as well as the retirement of captain Ben McEvoy, an extra ruck will be a welcome addition at the club for 2023.
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With Meek, Ned Reeves, and Max Lynch all turning 25 in 2023, coach Sam Mitchell now has a good selection to choose from for the ruck position, and little to worry about if one of them is struck down by injury once again.
All three are at prime age for playing senior football, and the Hawks will have the ability to try a couple of different set ups.
Meek played some solid footy for Peel Thunder throughout the year, and still managed six games for the Dockers at senior level. He was good enough in those games to justify potentially staking a claim to the ruck spot in the Hawks’ Round 1 line-up.
Out of the remaining Hawks rucks, Reeves’ game time was more consistent than Lynch’s in 2022, which would may suggest he is more likely to claim a spot in the initial stages of the season. It would be hard to accomodate for all three in one side.
Strength and athleticism
In terms of Meek himself, his size and speed will allow him to hold his own in the ruck contest as well as at ground level. He is very good in the air, while following up from contests to compete for the ball, and applying instant pressure with quick bursts of speed.
He also has a strong ability to cleanly dispose of the football out of contests and around the ground. This is evidenced by his 2022 season, where he averaged a disposal efficiency of 81.2 per cent across his six outings.
Elsewhere, Meek’s aforementioned size and speed allows him to play a role up forward if needed as well. This is a position that he has filled at times in the last two seasons whilst playing alongside Darcy at the Dockers.
He’s capable of drifting between ruck contests and spending time in the forward line, where he has popped up for an occasional goal. Meek will fight hard for the number one ruck spot, but could also play that attacking role quite well if needed.
The acquisition of Meek gives the Hawks another fresh young player, who provides them with more depth and options. The strongest facets of his game suggest that he could be a solid team player for years to come.
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