‘I went off my rocket’: Hot-headed Hawk’s big lesson
EMERGING Hawthorn defender James Sicily admits he must control his on-field temper better this season after a couple of infamous late-season run-ins with rivals and teammates in 2017.
Sicily had a career-best campaign last year after making the switch from the foreard line to the backline, averaging 24 disposals and nine marks from his final 10 games.
But Sicily also found himself in the headlines after some on-field clashes, including an altercation with teammate Taylor Duryea against Fremantle before giving away seven free kicks against Carlton in Round 22.
The 23-year-old said he had learnt plenty from his 2017 experiences.
"I just get a little bit of white-line fever that splits me apart from 'normal' James," Sicily told SEN on Wednesday.
"It just happens. I probably need to control it a bit better, in regards to that Fremantle game when I kind of went off my rocket there a little bit.
"It's something that I need to manage and direct it in the right way. Sometimes I might step out of line, but it's how quickly I can get back onto the job (that matters most)."
Sicily said his coach, Alastair Clarkson, "doesn't really make a big fuss" of his on-field demeanour, just as long as "I'm trying to do the right thing and it's not detrimental to the team".
The Western jets product was one of several Hawks to be moved into different parts of the ground by Clarkson last year.
After spending the first half of the season up forward, Sicily was pushed into defence after the bye, where he quickly cemented his spot with several commanding performances in the back 50.
And Sicily last week proved why he could develop into one of the league's best mid-sized defenders this season, finishing with 27 disposals and a game-high 12 marks in Hawthorn's open intra-club game at Waverley Park.
Sicily said he had "found (his) niche" in the backline and enjoyed playing with the club's defensive line.
"I find it a bit easier than playing in the forward line," Sicily said.
"Obviously you've got a bloke trying to stop you all day, which can make it a bit hard for you. The forwards these days don't really want to defend the backman, they just want to get the footy and kick goals, so it makes it a little bit easier.
"I just find that I read the game a little bit better as a backman and I'm enjoying it."
Sicily's move into defence has been further solidified by his new jumper number.
In 2018, Sicily has moved to No. 6 - the number previously worn by four-time premiership player and two-time Hawthorn best and fairest Josh Gibson - after spending the previous three seasons in the No. 21 guernsey.
Sicily said the switch to Gibson's number was instigated by Clarkson.
"He wanted me to take over the reins from Gibbo - and I just jumped at it and said 'yeah why not?'" Sicily laughed.
"I'm not too fussed about numbers to be honest.
"I'm not going to take over the Hollywood hoo-ha 'look at me' Gibson-type attitude, but I'll just try to go about my business quietly."