The future looks bright for Hawthorn following a strong win over North Melbourne by 39 points at Arden Street in the AAMI Community Series.
Tyler Brockman and Jacob Koschitzke are both yet to debut for the Hawks, but both have all but stamped their spot to a round one berth.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson concedes it’ll be difficult to keep the pair out of the team – Koschitzke at least.
“It’s hard not to pick him [Koschitzke] when he’s kicked six goals,” Clarkson said.
“We’ll look at what the balance of the side is, and Essendon play at the Cattery tonight so we’ll look at what the balance of their side is.”
“But kicking six goals in the first trial game doesn’t hurt when you’re putting your hand up for round one.”
The story quickly focused on Brockman and Koschitzke, with Brockman kicking three in the first quarter and Koschitzke snagging his first.
Koschitzke soon imposed himself on the contest with two late in the second quarter just as it seemed like North, who dominated the term, were about to take the lead.
He then added three more in the third and the Hawks, with Changkuoth Jiath a rock in defence, all but ended the game as a contest.
Clarkson had strong praise for Jiath, who took seven marks in defence to go alongside his 24 disposals.
“He had some great intercept marks, I think he had three or four in the third quarter and the first 10 minutes of the game.” Clarkson said.
North coach David Noble said that the scoreboard was not important at this stage despite two big defeats in the pre-season.
“I don’t see them as hefty losses, let me be clear,” he said.
“I see them as areas that we are trying to explore and grow in. It’s not round one, so let’s not get carried away.
“There are some things that we like in our game, and some things that we’ve got to go on.
“I’m not actually concerned with scoreboard, we actually won two quarters today.”
Among the best for Hawthorn was Harry Morrison, who had a very strong performance in the midfield with 30 disposals and a goal.
Also solid for the Hawks was Liam Shiels, with 33 disposals and a goal.
Both of the players who departed Collingwood during the off-season were prolific for their respective new clubs.
Tom Philips for Hawthorn (30 disposals and a goal), and Jaidyn Stephenson for North Melbourne (25 disposals, five marks) were among their sides best.
Both coaches were impressed with their new recruits.
“He [Phillips] is still learning our systems and the role we want him to play,” Clarkson said.
“He got a lot of the footy and kicked his first goal for the club which is really pleasing.
“They’ve [recruits from other clubs] got a long way to go in terms of learning our system, we’ve got a long way to go in terms of learning their traits and strengths but really pleased with the impact they’ve had.”
“I think his [Stephenson’s] workrate is starting to get up to the level we want,” Noble said.
“Getting him in the midfield, actually centre bounces where he can use his speed, he’s got great evasiveness.”
Also among the best for North Melbourne was Luke Davies-Uniacke who was good through the midfield, and Josh Walker and Dom Tyson with three goals apiece.
Noble praised Walker and Tyson for their strong matches.
“I like what he [Tyson] can bring to our team,” he said.
“He’s got great hands, he can read the ball really well.
“I’m pleased for him, he’s put in a lot of hard work so we’ll see what happens round one.”
“I’ve had history with Josh and I’ve seen him go forward.
“I think our ball movement going forward really helps him.
“Josh reads the ball really well both forward and back, and he was able to provide us with a really solid target up there.
“When you have a good solid target down there the players are keen to move the ball quicker.
“Because the players are keen to get it to a one-on-one, so credit to him, he did a great job.”
One of the big talking points of the AAMI Community Series thus far has been the new man on the mark rule, and it’s impact on scoring.
Clarkson said the impact on scoring is clear but the reduced rotations will require monitoring going forward.
“What we do know is that it has increased scoring, because there’s a lot more flow in the game,” he said.
“But with 75 rotations, I thought our game fizzed a bit in the second half.
“The games we’ve seen so far in the AAMI series, the game falls away a bit in the second half.
“I think some of that has something to do with the amount of running and the speed of the ball.
“So we’ll have to monitor that and see how it goes in the early part of the season.”
Noble said that he thinks the new rules might suit North going forward.
“Having watched the games over the weekend, it seems like, speeds the call,” he said.
“That’s probably going to suit us as we mature through our game style throughout the year.
“We’ve just got to make the best we can of it.”
“If it helps scoring, we want to score, so it’s good for us.”