Hawks Begin Life Without Buddy

Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Jarryd Roughead will be the focal point of Hawthorn's forward line. Image courtesy of heraldsun.com.au/George Salpigtidis
Two teams lifted premiership trophies in the AFL last season; the Brisbane Lions and Hawthorn . Only one of those would have been satisfied with 2013, and that was the Hawks, after holding on in the premiership decider against a gallant Fremantle. The Lions started the year full of promise after beating Carlton in the NAB Cup final, but that counted for little throughout the home and away season with favourite son Michael Voss losing his job as Brisbane fans suffered through another year without finals football.

Given the team named for Justin Leppitsch’s first senior match in charge, Lions fans shouldn’t be expecting a repeat of last season’s pre-season results. Just five players in the squad have 50 or more games of top-level footy under their belts, and one of those is former Geelong ruckman Trent West, who will wear the maroon, blue and gold for the first time on Thursday night. There will be plenty of eyes on rookie James Aish who has won back-to-back premierships with Norwood in the SANFL and is a sensational kick of the footy. With Simon Black moving in to an assistant coaching role, he has a chance to lock down a place in the midfield for the premiership opener.

The Hawks have resisted the temptation to blood their gun rookie, Dayle Garlett. The West Australian booted three goals in an intra-club game last week, but has been overlooked for this hitout. Backline star Matt Suckling returns after sitting out a large chunk of last season with a knee injury, while former Saints ruckman Ben McEvoy makes his Hawthorn debut. It will be the Hawks’ first proper game since Lance Franklin’s departure for Sydney, but there is still plenty of firepower up forward with Jarryd Roughead, Cyril Rioli and Jack Gunston all named in the 29-man squad.

LIVE on Fox Footy 

Click here to bet on NAB Challenge matches