Hawks midfielder Jaeger O’Meara is getting better each week. Picture: Michael Klein
Hawks midfielder Jaeger O’Meara is getting better each week. Picture: Michael Klein

Mitchell’s star rising at Hawks

WHAT is it within the DNA of the Hawthorn Football Club that takes a player from a rival AFL club and transforms him into a far superior footballer?

Is it the coach Alastair Clarkson, or is it the Hawks' system? Is it all of that, and something more?

Whatever the reason, no club this century has been so effective in targeting, trading for, and then taking the best of those recruits and turning them into matchwinners.

One of them (Brian Lake) won a Norm Smith; another (Josh Gibson) won best-and-fairests in two premiership sides; and an evergreen veteran (Shaun Burgoyne) is still producing the goods, even if a rare soft-tissue injury brought an early end to his day.

Sure, there have been a few misses in that time (sorry for the reminder Ty Vickery).

But the Hawks' thrilling one-point Easter Monday victory over Geelong provided the perfect example of Hawthorn's strategic list management and bravery in making tough calls (being prepared to allow Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis to finish their careers elsewhere to chase new talent).

No surprises for who was best afield, or the man whose possession gluttony threatens to rewrite the record books each time he goes out to play.

 

Tom Mitchell celebrates the Hawks’ win on the siren. Picture: AAP
Tom Mitchell celebrates the Hawks’ win on the siren. Picture: AAP

 

That was Tom Mitchell, who took on the 'Dangerwoodlett' trio - or the 'Holy Trinity', as some called the first time Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Gary Ablett played in the same team - and emerged as the most influential player on the field.

A week after having 54 touches against Collingwood, he made the Sherrin his own again, helping himself to 40 touches and almost certainly taking him to six Brownlow Medal votes.

Mitchell was a very good player at Sydney, even if for a time early in his career at the club, he couldn't always hold his spot in the team.

Now two weeks into his second season with the Hawks - and with a Peter Crimmins Medal already to his name - he is a bona fide superstar.

It wasn't just him, though.

Ben McEvoy was a good ruckman who looked like a throwback from the past for the Saints until they opted to trade him to Hawthorn.

Two premierships later, he is one of the most effective big men in the competition, taking his game to another level last season.

He was enormous against the Cats, rucking tirelessly, and exposing a real chink in the Geelong armour - in the ruck.

McEvoy had 15 disposals, five marks, 43 hitouts and importantly nailed a second term goal that would ultimately prove its own weight in goal, given the final margin.

Jarryd Roughead misses a goal kicks a behind at the end of the game which put the Hawks back in front. Picture: Michael Klein
Jarryd Roughead misses a goal kicks a behind at the end of the game which put the Hawks back in front. Picture: Michael Klein

Jaeger O'Meara, on face value, looked as if he might have been a bust last year when his chronic knee injury had at least one commentator saying he was so slow at stages that he looked as if he was playing in quicksand.

Well, he's extricated himself out of that mire.

He combined well with Mitchell in the middle, racked up 21 touches, and seems to be getting better each week.

We knew he was good at Gold Coast, but some doubted he could get back to the level again. His first two games of 2018 suggested otherwise.

Which brings us to Jarman Impey.

More than a few collective eyebrows were raised when Clarko made the pre-season call that the recruit from Port Adelaide - who the Bulldogs also courted last year - might transform himself into an "A-grade player".

Jarman Impey is showing signs of being an emerging A-grader. Picture: Michael Klein
Jarman Impey is showing signs of being an emerging A-grader. Picture: Michael Klein

 

He's still got a fair way to go to get there, but on the evidence of eight quarters at his new club, he is on the way.

He provides pace, pressure and some X-factor for this new team.

Impey kicked two first-half goals, and had the Cats' forwards quivering when dealing with him, Cyril Rioli and Paul Puopolo at times.

A generation ago, it was another Jarman that thrilled the Hawks' faithful in brown and gold - Darren Jarman, that is.

Impey will likely never reach those heights, but when he turns on the afterburners and drags something out of nothing, he's capable of bringing those same fans to their feet.