Howdy folks, we’re doing a 180 this week, we’ve gone from the depressing lows of the GWS Giants to the dizzying highs that only the Hawks can provide.
2013 was the best year a football team could ask for, with the Hawks winning the AFL Premiership with a fantastic win over the Fremantle Dockers. And while they have had some major off-season changes (or at least one major change!), they’ve made some positive additions to the team and they’ll be right up there again next year and will be looking to make it two in a row in 2014.
So are the Hawks capable of repeating their success of 2013, and more importantly to us, how will they treat us in Supercoach? Let’s take a look.
HAWTHORN HAWKS 2014 SUPERCOACH SCOUTING REPORT
2013 Record: 19 wins, 3 losses
INSBen McEvoy (Traded from St Kilda)
Billy Hartung (Pick #24, National Draft)
Dayle Gartlett (Pick #38, National Draft)
James Sicily (Pick #56, National Draft)
Jonathan Ceglar (Promoted Rookie)
Will Langford (Promoted Rookie)
Dallas Willsmore (Pick #17, Rookie Draft)
Derrick Wanganeen (Pick #33, Rookie Draft)
Zac Webster (Pick #48, Rookie Draft)
Ben Ross (Pick #57, Rookie Draft)
Kurt Heatherley (Pick #61, Rookie Draft)
Shem-Kalvin Taptu (Pick #65, Rookie Draft)
OUTSShane Savage (Traded to St Kilda)
Xavier Ellis (Free Agent to West Coast)
Lance Franklin (Free Agent to Sydney)
Max Bailey (Retired)
Brent Guerra (Retired)
Michael Osborne (Retired)
2014 Team Preview
2014 Bye Round: 9
Final 4: Melbourne Demons, Fremantle Dockers, Geelong Cats, Collingwood Magpies
The biggest news story of this off-season was the defection of Lance Franklin to the Sydney Swans on a massive 10 year contract. While this raised all sorts of salary cap and COLA questions for the Sydney Swans, its left a massive hole in the Hawthorn Hawks, but it’s one I think they’ll be capable of filling. These past few years Hawthorn have a track record of trading their 1st round draft picks for ready made players who’ve bypassed that “development” phase of their football careers, they’ve continued that form again in 2014, filling in the ruckman void with the same method. After being linked to Billy Longer for a few weeks, they surprised almost everyone when they managed to trade for the Saints #1 ruckman Ben McEvoy (and pick #24), sending out the exciting Shane Savage, their own 1st and the Franklin compensation pick in return. They also took what many thought was the biggest risk in the draft, a risk that no one was willing to take in 2012, which was drafting the exciting, but troublesome Dayle Gartlett. They’ve also suffered some retirements, with Premiership ruckman Max Bailey, as well as Brent Guerra and Michael Osborne all retiring.
On the fixture front, it’s a tough road for the Hawks, but that’s to be expected when you’re the reigning Premiers. They have double up games against the three other sides in the top 4, Geelong, Fremantle and Sydney as well as double games against Collingwood and Gold Coast. It’ll be interesting to see how the Hawks go without Buddy in their side, but they have enough firepower elsewhere that they shouldn’t miss him too much offensively, but it may make it a bit tougher for Roughead and Gunston up forward without having him in the side. Still, they shouldn’t have any issues grabbing a top 4 finish in 2014 and will be a serious Premiership contender again.
2014 Projected Wins/Losses: 18 wins, 4 losses
2012 SC Average: 110.8
2013 SC Average: 104.2
Starting Price: 562K
Sam Mitchell is likely to be the 2014 version of Brendon Goddard, that is, he’ll be the one defender who is most likely locked into nearly every Supercoach side around the country. But don’t let that stop you from picking him, because you’ll regret it if you do.
Now, the reason Mitchell was given Defense eligibility in 2014? It’s because after he attended the centre bounces, he’d often push back down the field and ended up winning 50% of his disposals in the defensive midfield area, 2nd to only Kade Simpson in this stat (and also the reason he was given Defense eligibility also). Even with playing in the back part of the midfield for most of the year, he still put up some terrific stats, averaging 28 possessions, 3.5 I50s, 2.8 Rebound 50’s, 4.4 Clearances and 3.3 tackles which saw him ranked 7th for Total Kicks, 9th in Total Handballs, 5th in Total Disposals, 9th in Disposals per game, 4th in Uncontested Possessions per game, and 6th in Effective Disposals per game.
That contested/uncontested ratio was probably the biggest difference between his 2012 and 2013, with his contested possession count falling to 9.7 and only 34.5% of his total disposals, compared to 12.5 and 45.7% of his total disposals. Mitchell has only dipped below the 100 point average once since 2005 (98.9 in 2010) and while there might be a slight chance of that occurring in 2014, I don’t expect it too and he should be good for a 100+ season again in Supercoach and a safe option in your defense.
2014 SC Projection: 99-105
2012 SC Average: 103.7
2013 SC Average: 98.5
Starting Price: 531.3K
Probably the most interesting thing for Hawthorn going into 2014 is how they’ll function without Buddy dragging a defender in and out of the forward 50 any longer and how the Hawks remaining forwards like Roughead and Gunston will go now that they have the #1 and #2 targets on their backs. The Orange Roughie was the best forward in the AFL last year, winning the Coleman Medal with a tally of 72 goals. That wasn’t the only category he was a standout in however, ranking 2nd for Total Marks Inside 50, 7th for Marks Inside 50 per game, 19th in Total Goal Assists, 8th in Total Time on Ground and 15th in Total Supercoach Points.
He will likely continue his run as the best, or one of the best forwards next year, and will again be firmly planted in the forward 50 and will again likely be removed from backup ruck duties due to the addition of Ben McEvoy to the side. The Hawks will have 60 goals to replace in 2014, so Roughie is a chance to eclipse that 72 goal tally and would be a good choice if you want to go and take a punt on the Coleman Medal.
Like all key forwards, he’s prone to the occasional dud game, with Roughead having 4 games where he scored between 58 and 69 points in 2013. He did actually start off 2013 fairly slowly; his post Round 5 average was only 81.6 and finished the year in similar fashion, with his Round 17-23 average at only 88.4. In fact, he does have a bit of a history of struggling a tad to go bang right out of the gates at the start of the year, his Round 1-5 average looking like the following over the past 3 seasons
So for 2 out of the last 3 years he’s been sluggish at the start of the year, I’m not overly concerned, but it’s something to consider maybe? Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong with Roughead next year, especially since the Hawks will be relying on him to back up his Coleman Medal tally.
2014 SC Projection: 98-106
2012 SC Average: 85.9
2013 SC Average: 96.7
Starting Price: 521.6K
Thought by more than a few to be washed up after his disappointing 2012 campaign, which saw him only play 8 games for the year, with many suspecting his knee injury would affect him for the rest of his career. 2013 was a return to form for Hodge, playing 20 games for an average of 96.7. While it wasn’t a return to his 110+ highs of 2008 and 2010 it was still a decent return for a guy who had been written off as a fantasy football player.
Hodge spent the majority of last year across half back, ranking 4th at the Hawks for intercept possessions, but the Hawks scored from 28% of these, which ranked 1st in the top 50 intercept winners last year, so you can see how much offense the Hawks generate from his defensive play down back. Recorded averages of 21.8 possessions, he had a kick to handball ratio of 2.3 with him averaging 15.2 kicks and 6.6 handballs per game, he likes to get his work done by foot rather than hand-passing it off to someone else and he was 2nd in the Hawks side for total metres gained for the year.
Now that Hodge, along with Sam Mitchell have DEF eligibility, I’m sure many of you are asking “Which one do I pick?” and the answer is simple. Pick the one you can afford. If you’re 40-50K short on Mitchell, then grab Hodge, if you can afford Mitchell in your budget, then grab him. The same as last year though, Mitchell will probably score slightly higher than Hodge, but there was a reason he is slightly more expensive in the first place.
2014 SC Projection: 92-98
2012 SC Average: 98.6
2013 SC Average: 88.4
Starting Price: 476.7K
“Delicious” Cyril Rioli was a bit of a disappointment last year, missing a chunk of games with a hamstring injury in the middle of the year and then ankle complaints towards the end of the season, in total he could only manage 13 games during the H&A season. Statistically Rioli’s 2013 was almost identical to his 2012 season, with his disposals (15 per game), marks (3.4 per game) and I50’s (4.2 per game) staying exactly the same, while notching slight declines in tackles, down to 4.2 from 5.3 per game and goals per game, down to 1.3 from 1.9
Rioli started the year like a house on fire, with an stellar first 5 weeks of the 2013 AFL season which saw him averaging 19.4 disposals, 2.4 goals, 4 tackles, 5.8 Inside 50’s and a Supercoach average of 111. Then the hamstring injury struck that caused him to miss 10 weeks of football and he just couldn’t catch up upon his return, seeing his averages fall to 12.1 disposals, 0.6 goals, 4.1 tackles, 3.75 Inside 50’s and a Supercoach average of 74.2. His final 4 games of AFL football for 2013 where a bit more Rioli like, with his average popping back up to 94.5 including an impressive 110 in the Grand Final.
If Rioli is good to go at the start of the year after his suspension, I think he should be a pretty good pick. Prior to this year he had 3 seasons of averages between 94-99 SC Points, so we know he’s got the talent. His start to last season even showed that perhaps he was ready to take the next step and finally break the 100 point season barrier. He may miss time again due to injury, he seems prone to missing at least 3-4 weeks every year, but when Rioli is on, there are few players who can match him.
The only thing to remember is he’ll miss Round 1 due to suspension, so you’ll be missing him for the first week of the season, which may turn him from a starting pick to an upgrade target for later in the year.
2014 SC Projection: 92-98
2012 SC Average: 94.6
2013 SC Average: 92.1
Starting Price: 496.6K
At first glance at Birchall’s’ season average, you’d be wondering why so many people are angry with this guy. Birchall absolutely blew the lid off the place in his first 4 weeks of 2013, averaging 31.25 disposals (23 of which were of the uncontested variety, he was running loose out there!), 7.25 marks, 1 goal and a Supercoach average of 127.5. Then The Barron traded him into his Supercoach side and those frustrating taggers came knocking on Birchall’s door, which caused Birchall to struggle, only being able to produce averages of 19.25 disposals, 3.5 marks, 0.25 goals and a Supercoach average of 71.25 over his next 4 games.
So it’s not exactly all Birchall’s fault, he’s not the only player in the AFL who’s ever had trouble dealing with taggers, and he won’t be the last either, but to add insult to injury he missed 8 weeks with a PCL injury he suffered in Round 13 against West Coast. Still, there were some positive signs emerging for Birchall post Round 8 once his terrible tagging month once out of the way. Excluding the 40 he scored in his injured game against the Eagles, his Round 8 onwards Supercoach average sat at 99.2, which was more in line with what he’s averaged in previous years and he managed to continue that form into the Finals, averaging 103 over the Hawks finals campaign.
I’m not overly concerned about Birchall going into 2014. I think he’s now slotted into the Heath Shaw type role for us in Supercoach. He may struggle if the opposition decides to clamp down on him, so he’ll have the occasional dud game, but the majority of the time he should be fine and another year of averaging in the 90’s should be on the cards. And once again we’ll play the “which one do I pick?” game with the 3 big Hawk defenders. Go Mitchell if you can, grab Hodge if you need to free up some money, or go Birchall if you’re really pinching pennies.
2014 SC Projection: 90-96
2012 SC Average: 71.3
2013 SC Average: 83
Starting Price: 447.4K
The #3 man in the Hawks attack, Gunston will be getting a bit of an upgrade now that Buddy Franklin has left for Sydney. Kicked an impressive 42 goals in 2013, Gunston was a bit hot and cold during the H&A rounds, but absolutely blew the opposition away during the Finals, averaging 3.6 goals and a Supercoach average of 123.
We know Gunston can kick goals, so the question is – how will he go without Buddy in the side? Well, in the 4 games that Buddy missed last year Gunston saw his goal average rise from 1.9 to 2.5, his disposal average rise from 15.4 to 16.25, his marks rise from 5.6 to 6.5 and his Supercoach average rose to 86.25. So not huge improvements across the board, but it was only a 4 game sample and Gunston is still young.
After that terrific Finals campaign, he’ll likely have a target on his back next year, especially since Franklin is gone, which will also mean he’ll have a better defensive player on his back as well. At this stage I’m still 50/50 on his prospects, he’ll get more attention, but Gunston is talented, and one just needs to go back and re-watch the Grand Final to see what this kid can do. At this stage I’ll be skipping him in my initial team and re-evaluating him later in the year, but I can understand those who have confidence in him from the get-go and pick him in their starting squads.
2014 SC Projection: 86-92
2012 SC Average: 83
2013 SC Average: N/A
Starting Price: 312.2K
Suckling missed the entire 2013 season after injuring his knee during the NAB Cup, so we’re getting a nice injury discount on him, his 2013 price was at 442.4K and we’ll be able to buy him for 130K less in 2014.
Suckling played every game in 2012, as well as 20 games in 2011, so he hasn’t’t had many injury problems previously so he’s not someone we should have to worry about being an injury repeater. Averaged over 20 disposals, 5.5 marks and 2 tackles in 11/12 seasons, so we know what he’s capable of if he gets out on the park. Also during that 11/12 period he lead the Hawks in rebound 50’s and was 2nd for marks, 3rd for uncontested possessions, 4th for disposals and 5th for kicks into the forward 50.
As long as Suckling is healthy and ready to go at the start of the season then he’s a terrific mid priced option for you. Won’t become a season long keeper, but at worst should score in the 80-90 range and generate that 130K injury discount back onto his starting price, which means you should only need 100K in your bank account to then upgrade him to a premium defender later in the year.
2014 SC Projection: 82-88
2012 SC Average: N/A
2013 SC Average: N/A
Starting Price: 117.3K
Rated by some as a top 10 talent in the 2012 draft, all 18 teams skipped Garlett during the draft with many off-field issues still hanging over his head at the time. And to Garlett’s credit he took these criticisms on board and worked on cleaning up his act, returning to the Swan Districts in the WAFL where ended up booting 48 goals in 19 games.
No one doubts Garlett’s talent, and the Hawks got a real steal taking him in the 2nd round, so the only question now is will Hawthorn play him and can he stay out of trouble? He’s looking likely to be in the majority of teams come the start of the season as he has both MID and FWD eligibility and is a bargain price of 117.3K, which makes him much more appealing at either position than the majority of the other top 10 picks who have increased rookie prices. The Barron currently has him slotted into my midfield as I have Danger/Caddy/L.Taylor types pegged in my forward line, so he opens up a nice swing position there, but pick him in either position and he’ll be a good buy. Will be a potential green/red vest candidate, which will limit his scores a bit if it does occur, but if you’re just using him for cash generation purposes you’ll just have to grin and bear it when that occurs.
2014 SC Projection: 62-68
2012 SC Average: 96.0
2013 SC Average: 96.6
Starting Price: 520.9K
One of the more overlooked Hawks at times it seems, especially in Supercoach, Lewis has been a very solid pick in recent years, especially up forward. Unfortunately he losses that forward line eligibility this year, but he’s still someone you can look at in your midfield.
An ultra consistent player, he had a Standard Deviation of 19, which ranked equal 3rd in Midfielders priced 500K+ in 2013 (Ziebell was 1st, Goddard was 2nd and Barlow was equal 3rd with Lewis) and if we look at the top 25 most expensive midfielders this year, apart from the already mentioned Goddard and Barlow, there wasn’t a single midfielder who recorded a SD below 22.
Has recorded almost identical stats the past 3 seasons, which probably highlights his consistency once again, last year he recorded averages 21.9 disposals, 4.8 marks, 4.3 Inside 50’s, 4.1 clearances, 3.8 tackles and kicked 17 goals for the year. Lewis was 2nd at the Hawks in clearances, with 35% of his clearances resulting in a score for the Hawks, which was 2nd for the Top 50 Clearance winners behind only Gary Ablett. Another sneaky way that Lewis adds 3-4 points to his game average is surprisingly hitouts. He averaged 2.9 hitouts in 2013 and has recorded 147 “third man” hitouts in the past 3 years, which is 85 more than any other player in the AFL during that span.
Lewis doesn’t have the high upside appeal like a few of his competitors around the same price, so many may skip him for that reason, which is understandable, but he does provide an ultra consistent alternative if you’re looking for something like that in your side.
2014 SC Projection: 94-100
2012 SC Average: 104.2
2013 SC Average: 93.3
Starting Price: 503.3K
The new ruckman for Hawthorn, McEvoy has spent the past 6 years over at St. Kilda. The Mad Irishman has already taken a look at Big Ben, an article I highly recommend you go back and read if you’re considering Ben McEvoy for your Supercoach side in 2014.
Only an average ruckman, he had averages of 20.5 hitouts with 5.5 or 27.2% of his hitouts being to advantage. He attended the 14th most centre bounces in 2013, but St. Kilda could only manage a clearance differential of -5.7% when he jumped, which was the 4th worst of the top 50. It’s not like the Saints were short of quality midfielders either, so the blame cannot really be placed there either. The biggest item that Mick noted in his McEvoy column is the scoring differential McEvoy recorded when he’s playing ruck solo and when playing with a backup. When he rucked solo he averaged 22.3 hitouts and 101.9 Supercoach Points. When Tom Hickey was in the side as the #2 ruck, McEvoy’s averages fell to 18.8 hitouts and 86.1 Supercoach Points. And that’s the biggest red flag for McEvoy, because the Hawks have shown they like to play with a #1 ruck and then use David Hale as the backup, with Mad Mick noting
“In 2013 both Max Bailey and David Hale lined up beside each other 15 times in the home and away series and another 4 times during their successful finals series. They also played Hale alongside Sam Grimley when Bailey wasn’t named and used Roughead in the ruck on a few occasions also. All this being said I just can’t see the Hawks going away from their current successful game plan of playing two ruckmen.”
McEvoy isn’t a totally useless player though, his biggest strength as a player is his ability to move behind the ball and gain possession for his side, recording 35 intercept marks for 2013 (1st for all Ruckmen), which was equal 21st for any player in the AFL. When McEvoy gets the pill, he usually scores OK, but that’s the rub, when he doesn’t get the ball, he doesn’t have the hitout numbers like a Todd Goldstein to keep his scores Supercoach relevant (For comparison, Goldstein’s had 10 10 or less possession games, where he still averaged 103, McEvoy had 7 10 or less possession games and averaged 59)
At this stage I’m weary of picking McEvoy based on his history of playing in a 2 ruck situation and the fact you’ll be forced to 500K to grab him in your side. He won’t have big hitout numbers to keep his scores high, so the hope is he’ll be finding enough of the ball at the Hawks to get some big scores. He’s an option to look at, but personally I’ll be holding off on him for my initial side, and if he does struggle his price will tumble so he might make a decent sideways injury emergency trade in the middle of the year.
2014 SC Projection: 88-96
2012 SC Average: 95.6
2013 SC Average: 83.2
Starting Price: 449K
A very versatile player for the Hawks, who can go forward or play in the ruck, it’ll be more of the same from Hale, which will be good for the Hawks, but will make him largely uninteresting to us Supercoach players. He’s put up extremely consistent numbers in his 3 years at Hawthorn, averaging around 13 disposals, 4 marks, 1 goal and 16-18 hitouts per game. Hale’s biggest issue last year was his goal kicking, he recorded a tally of 24.18 in 2012, which equalled a 57.1% accuracy in front of the big sticks, but in 2013 he fell to 20.26 and a career low 43.5% accuracy, which was the worst scoring accuracy of the top 100 goal scorers during the AFL season.
Hale attended the most ruck contests for the Hawks in 2013, something that may not occur again in 2014 with the addition of a solid (slightly better than Max Bailey at least) ruckman in Ben McEvoy. The Hawks have shown they like to play with 2 ruckman though, so I don’t see Hale’s role changing any further into 2014, so he may be up for a score between his 2012 and 2013 averages, but there’s no real upside here and there will be cheaper options available in both ruck and forward positions you’d be better off taking a look at.
2014 SC Projection: 82-88
2012 SC Average: 80.5
2013 SC Average: 78.7
Starting Price: 424.3K
Last years Norm Smith Medallist, Lake had a terrific 1st year for Hawthorn, and was a fantastic addition to the Hawks defence, recording averages of 15.6 disposals and 7.5 marks, while ranking 6th in Total Marks, 7th in Total Contested Marks, 6th in Marks per game, 12th in Contested Marks per game, 17th in Total One Percenters (These are defensive actions such as knock-ons, spoils, smothers, and shepherds), 20th in One Percenters per game and 8th in Total Time on Ground per game.
Lake only conceded more than 1 goal only twice during 2013, he also recorded 3.1 rebound 50’s and 3.7 intercept marks and after Ryan Schoenmakers was injured Lake recorded 13 more intercept marks than the next best player during the year. Now even with all that, Lake still isn’t a fantasy relevant player, and hasn’t been in Supercoach since his 105 average he managed in 2010. It’ll be another good defensive year for Lake, but not one that will translate to big Supercoach Points, so for his price he’s not worth looking at. He will also miss the first 3 weeks of the 2014 season due to a suspension he received in the Grand Final, which just marks any appeal he had down even further.
2014 SC Projection: 76-82
2012 SC Average: 82.2
2013 SC Average: 85.2
Starting Price: 459.6K
Burgoyne was probably one of the best players you could pick from Port Power between 2005-2008, but his scores have been less exciting at his time at Hawthorn with a first year Hawks average of 99.5 and then averages in the 70’s and 80’s since then. But this isn’t a knock on Burgoyne as a player at all, he does his job, he does it well and he does it consistently, with him averaging 20 disposals, 3.5 marks, 3.3 I50’s, 2.5 Clearances, 3.7 tackles and kicked 18.6 during 2013.
He can also still turn it on when required, evidenced by the 153 he scored in Round 4, and a big 148 in the Preliminary Final against Geelong. As he gets older though, these big games are becoming further and further apart, he recorded 5 tons in 2013, but he also recorded 5 scores below 70 as well, so he is prone to the odd cold game now and then (He also scored 55 in the Grand Final against Fremantle).
He’s still got a decent pricetag to him, but he’s 31, so we can expect him to start a downward slide, not upwards and while he’s still a capable footballer and at his best he’s outstanding it’s still not enough for us to consider him for Supercoach in 2014.
2014 SC Projection: 76-84
2012 SC Average: 101.4
2013 SC Average: 78.1
Starting Price: 421.3K
Sewell suffered a dramatic dropoff in output on the football field and in Supercoach last year, dropping down 23.3 points for the year and recording his lowest average since 2005. The biggest cause for the dropoff in his points was fewer possessions, but also less contested possessions and fewer clearances, with his disposal rate falling from 25.3 in 2012 to 20.8 in 2013, his contested possessions falling from 12.3 in 2012 to 8.5 in 2013 and his clearances falling from 5.8 in 2012 to 3.3 in 2013. He attended the 3rd most centre bounces at the Hawks, so it’s not like his drop-off was due to being moved off-ball either.
In fact Sewell’s play was so bad that he was actually dropped during the year, with Hawthorn Coach Alastair Clarkson noting:
“He just hasn’t been playing well enough,” Alastair Clarkson told reporters at Melbourne Airport on Friday. “We’ve got high standards with the way that we play and Sewell’s just been a little bit scratchy for the last five or six weeks, it wasn’t just his form last week.” (He had a Supercoach score of 43 the previous game)
I know many will look at his previous 5 years averages and his reduced starting price and will be to take a punt on him returning to form, but I’m slightly more hesitant. I’m worried that with his diminishing form that the Hawks may begin the process of bringing some youngsters through and begin to phase out Sewell, which means he may be in line for even further drops in his Supercoach averages. He’ll be one to avoid for me.
2014 SC Projection: 70-76
Quick list of lower ranked players to keep your eyes on during pre-season
Jed Anderson -MID – 283.7K
Billy Hartung – MID – 117.3K
Mitch Hallahan – MID – 123.93K
And that’s it for the Hawks in 2014, what do you guys reckon? Any Hawks you’re gagging to get in your side and any you’ll be skipping? Let us know in the comments below or send us some Twitter mail @BarronVonCrow
Barron Von Crow