Hawthorn's Josh Ward has impressed with his body of work this preseason. (Image: Hawthorn Football Club)

Hawthorn skipper Ben McEvoy was full of praise for first-year recruits Josh Ward and Connor MacDonald when he spoke to The Inner Sanctum at Captain's Day.

Ahead of its season opener against North Melbourne in the coming weeks, Hawthorn captain Ben McEvoy says he’s excited about the young crop of players coming through.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum at the annual AFL’s Captains Day, McEvoy has been impressed not just the skill level, but attitude of highly touted Hawks Josh Ward and Connor MacDonald.

A top-five pick for the Hawks in last year’s draft, Ward has impressed in the preseason with his performance against Richmond last weekend in the AAMI Community Series a highlight in the side’s losing effort, finishing the day with 29 disposals.

Having impressed on the training track during the summer, McEvoy says he’s been pleased with the first-year Hawk’s progress over the preseason.

“He’s just a natural football, there’s plenty he has to learn but as far as being able to play at AFL level there’s so many fundamentals he already has in his kit bag,” McEvoy said.

“He’s a really astute kid, he holds himself very well – very intelligent – so [I’m] excited to see him playing.”


Connor MacDonald is another first-year Hawks who is contention for a debut in Round 1, with the midfielder showing promising signs on the track and in both the club’s practice games against Collingwood and Richmond.

Enjoying the way he plays the game, the Hawks captain said he’s also been impressed with how the youngster has carried himself around the club in his pre-season.

“I’ve been really excited about what he’s brought, he’s dashing and confident but a real down to earth kid and he’s been a pleasure to work with,” he said.

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Reflecting on his own block of training and preparation ahead of the 2022 AFL season, McEvoy says he’s been managing his load as he’s now on the back end of his career.

“I’m getting on a bit now, just managing and I don’t do everything, but do what we know now in a period of years [I’ve played] now [what to do] to get fit enough and ready for the season and not break down,” he said.

McEvoy would also comment on the current ruck stocks at the Hawks, with Ned Reeves and Max Lynch in the wings, the Hawks skipper says the two big men are still developing, saying it will take time for them to hit their stride.

“Those guys are really raw in terms of AFL experience, they might have 10 to 15 games of AFL experience between them,” he said.

“You need to be patient, when I work with them I think back to a young me, it took me a long time [to develop] and does if you’re a ruck, and I just try as quick as I can to impasse some of my experience about what it takes and how to go about it at AFL level.

“[They’re] enthusiastic and up for the fight…hopefully [they’ll] be able to share the journey to an extent this year because it’s very hard to come in having played only five AFL games [and then have] to play 22 in the ruck is very challenging.”

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