Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has defended the club’s list strategy amid reports suggesting a Hawks icon is worried “the club is in many ways broken”.
The Hawks were battered in the first two weeks of the season, with a 59-point loss to Essendon followed by an 81-point belting at the hands of the Sydney Swans in round two.
According to The Age’s Caroline Wilson, the club’s direction has caused tension in the boardroom with Hawks icon Don Scott involved in a “fiery war of words” with club president Andrew Gowers in recent weeks.
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“I know Don Scott is a troublemaker, but his view is that the club is in many ways broken and he is very concerned,” Wilson told Nine’s Footy Classified.
The Hawks’ losses to Essendon and Sydney have prompted questions on the club’s list strategy after experienced trio Tom Mitchell, Jaeger O’Meara and Jack Gunston all departed in the off-season.
However, Sam Mitchell backed the bold strategy to pay off, suggesting the club’s midfield was not an issue.
“What was the alternative?” he asked on Footy Classified.
“We got together as a list-management committee … and we decided, ‘How can we build this club back to premiership success? What can we do to get there?’.
“The most viable option for us was to try and get young players together, to get a good list of young players and build them together.
“We’ve had two rough games and we haven’t played to the top of our capabilities, but we’re going to win some games of footy this year.”
“If we had’ve kept Jaeger and Tom it means that Will Day is not playing in the midfield. It means young (Cam) Mackenzie is not playing in the midfield because he’s going to be pushed out into some other position.
“The other challenge is the one player we really wanted to keep in Jack Gunston … He’s the one we’re really missing because with our forward line we’re not able to score as well as we would like at the moment.”
Wilson was highly critical of the decision to let Tom Mitchell, the 2018 Brownlow Medal winner, depart.
“I don’t like when clubs strip back to nothing,” she said.
“I do think it hurts the competition generally. Of course they’re not tanking. They would say, ‘What’s the difference between finishing 14th and 18th?’. Well, I would say a fair bit.
“I would also say that good young players need to be nurtured by older players.”
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Sam Mitchell denied reports suggesting the AFL had directly contacted Hawthorn and warned the club not to allow both Tom Mitchell and O’Meara to be traded last summer.
“I don’t think that AFL coaches or list-management groups are spoken to by the AFL,” he said.
“I’m new to this, but it’s not my understanding that they would be giving us advice on how to run our own list.”
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