With clubs finalising their delistings for 2017, the focus now turns towards the delisted free agency period. There is no doubt that the list has some quality players who could still offer something to their new suitors. Will Hawthorn make their move for 2017 and secure an experienced hand to add to their list? Here are some left-field ideas as to who the Hawks could look at in delisted free agency. I have only named players aged 25 or under, as I don’t see a point in the Hawks adding older players to their list given the phase they are in.
1 Trent McKenzie
The man nicknamed “Cannon” has been delisted by the Suns after 6 seasons, and he will be one of the delisted free agents sure to attract some attention this week. McKenzie is a penetrating and accurate kick, and can kick 70m at full stretch, a skill that is certainly high on the requirements list at Hawthorn. At 25 years of age, McKenzie has plenty to offer if he can remain injury-free. Hawthorn have a bevy of defenders returning in 2018, but they are not getting any younger and a bit of defensive depth wouldn’t go amiss. Add to that the loss of Luke Hodge and Josh Gibson, and it makes a reasonable case for Hawthorn to add another experienced defender. So why not add one that can provide a raking kick to launch into attack? The addition of someone like McKenzie will also give Ryan Burton more freedom to play in attack, and provide them with much-needed backup for Grant Birchall or Ben Stratton, should they get injured again. Port Adelaide are rumoured to be interested as well, but the lure of returning home to Victoria could help Hawthorn seal the deal if they wanted to add him to the list.
2 Michael Close
Close was delisted by the Lions last week after having played only 27 games after debuting in 2014. Close kicked 24 goals in his time with the Lions, but the emergence of Eric Hipwood and other younger forwards has seen him drop in the pecking order. With the Lions focussed on building a list with a five-year view, Close has found himself on the outer. At his best, he has a great tank and is capable of taking a strong mark. Hawthorn have struggled in this department in their forward line, and neither Ty Vickery nor Ryan Schoenmakers have worked out as full-time complements to Jarryd Roughead, and Tim O’Brien plays more of a CHF role while pinch hitting in the ruck. Someone like Close might be worth a punt at 23 years of age, and with plenty of room to develop. The thing that works against him is the fact that Hawthorn are regaining defenders who were out through injury, and this frees up Jack Gunston and James Sicily to play up forward where they originally ply their trade. Close is still worth a crack in my opinion, with a medium-term view given the age profile of Hawthorn’s tall forwards.
3 Sam Collins
Collins played at Box Hill, and was subsequently picked up by Fremantle at number 55 in the 2015 draft. He only played 14 games for the Dockers, spending a lot of time in the reserves. Collins is known to have a good footballing brain and demonstrates good leadership skills. He is also 23 years of age, which puts him in the same bracket as Close; a pick with a medium-term view. Collins is a good mark, and has the frame to play on some of the bigger forwards in the game. He has held his own against the likes of Cloke and Westhoff, and provided the Dockers with a good defensive presence in 2016. While Kaiden Brand is developing well, the addition of Collins will add depth to the Hawks defence, especially with James Frawley and Ben Stratton approaching their 30s soon. He will also have the advantage of being familiar with the club and team structure, and could prove to be a handy addition to the side.
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