JAEGER O’Meara isn’t feeling the pressure to rise to the occasion in Hawthorn teammate Tom Mitchell’s absence, insisting it will take a “collective effort” to fill the Brownlow medallist’s void.
O’Meara sat out the last quarter as planned in the Hawks’ intraclub match on Wednesday night, but was his usual classy self in the minutes he did play, including a brilliant second quarter goal.
The hit-out provided a perfect opportunity for young midfielders James Worpel, James Cousins and Harry Jones to push their case – and they did – but it was a state league midfielder who stole the show.
Former West Perth onballer Luke Meadows has emerged as a potential Hawthorn recruit as a replacement for Mitchell via the pre-season supplemental selection period.
Meadows signed with the Hawks’ VFL affiliate Box Hill in late November and did his hopes of a shock AFL call-up no harm with a standout showing, particularly in the opening half.
The 24-year-old won a heap of the ball and used it well, with one highlight reel moment where he spun out of trouble before his snap at goal on his opposite left boot was barely touched on the line.
“He’s a WA boy, so me and ‘Stratts’ (Ben Stratton) were pretty happy to have him play with us,” O’Meara told AFL.com.au post-game.
“But he was actually on the opposite side to what I was on for the first half, then he switched over to our side and I said to him, ‘Just do whatever you did in the first half, because you dominated’.
“I was on the bench for a couple of minutes and was just watching him and he kicked a goal and got a fair bit of the footy. He was good to watch, so we’ll see what happens with that.”
James Worpel and Liam Shiels compete for the ball in the middle. Picture: Getty Images
Worpel, who won plenty of possessions, was a force in the centre and kicked a great goal at one stage after escaping from a pack of players, and Jones also caught O’Meara’s eye.
Jones received a stern word from Ricky Henderson after not coming from the ground quickly enough during the fourth quarter, but again showed promise.
Cousins collected his share of the Sherrin, too, and his expert finish on the run early in the second term was noteworthy.
“‘Worps’ was very impressive,” O’Meara said.
“He got a lot of the footy and I think he got a fair few centre clearances – he’s a little bull in there – so I’m very excited about him and Harry Jones.
“They’ve been training extremely well over the pre-season and I think Worps will get a fair bit of confidence out of the footy he played last year.”
Ben McEvoy and Jon Ceglar reaching high for the ball. Picture: Getty Images
Mitchell (broken leg), Grant Birchall (knee), Tom Scully (ankle), Chad Wingard (calf), Conor Glass (calf), Conor Nash, Changkuoth Jiath (back), Jacob Koschitzke (finger) and Will Golds (concussion) sat out the match.
However, Mitchell, Birchall and Scully are the only ones who are still some way from playing.
Key forward prospect Mitch Lewis came alive in the second quarter after a quiet opening, slotting a booming 50m-plus goal following a strong mark from an O’Meara centre clearance.
Mitch Lewis takes a big grab. Picture: Getty Images
Evergreen champion Shaun Burgoyne showed his enduring class with an electric third term that included a pair of goals, while Liam Shiels was typically effective through the middle.
Hawthorn’s defence looks set to be a strength again, with James Sicily looking sharp and Stratton, James Frawley and even recruit Tim Mohr taking a series of strong intercept marks.
James Sicily and Darren Minchington locking horns. Picture: Getty Images
Former captain Jarryd Roughead also moved well up forward.
Another newcomer, defender Jack Scrimshaw, flashed his potential and was especially prominent with his generally excellent ball use, while the athletic Jackson Ross was lively.
Harry Morrison spent much of his time on the wing, on top of shifts in at the centre bounce, and was a standout with his kicking skills, capped by a silky finish off one step in front of goal.
Ruckman Marc Pittonet played significant minutes as the deepest forward, often opposed to Kaiden Brand, and kicked the first goal of the night as he strives for more senior opportunities.
The Hawks return to the field next Thursday to face Carlton in a practice match at Ikon Park.
Shaun Burgoyne breaks away from David Mirra. Picture: Getty Images
Source: AFL FOOTBALL NEWS