Hawthorn club great Shane Crawford has joined the chorus of critics over the club’s decision to strip experience from the list heading into 2023.
The Hawks have just one contracted player over the age of 30, and just six players over the age of 25 – thanks to the addition of 27-year-old Port recruit Karl Amon.
Crawford said it was “worrying” to see the club lose almost 1400 combined games of AFL experience to end 2022, with Jack Gunston, Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’Meara traded, Kyle Hartigan, Tom Phillips and Daniel Howe delisted and Ben McEvoy and Liam Shiels retired.
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Crawford, the 305-game premiership Hawk, said he was especially concerned given coach Sam Mitchell has only been at the helm for one season, after taking over from Alastair Clarkson.
“That’s the worrying thing because at the moment he’s heavily supported and he’s making the tough calls and a lot of coaches in his position wouldn’t have made a lot of the calls, especially when you’ve got so much experience going out,” Crawford said on SEN.
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“I just worry that maybe they should have kept a couple just from a leadership point of view and a training point of view and just having good blokes around – it’s really important.
“Obviously he wants to get game time (into the young Hawks) and have no interference and not be in a headspace when he can chuck in a few older players to help out, it’s like, ‘nah, I’ve got to see whether or not these young kids can stand up’.
“So interesting time (at the club). I just hope even if there’s a new board that comes on board, they don’t get a bit nervous because the Hawks may struggle for the next year or two, they stick together.
“It’s been a really tough time.”
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Crawford’s concerns echo the fears of Fox Footy’s David King and SEN’s Kane Cornes, who admit being left “confused” by the list changes.
“I fear that Sam Mitchell, another rebuild coach, has committed professional suicide in terms of what they’ve done with the experienced purge of players from their list over the last couple of weeks,” King said last month.
“I just fear that Sam has challenged the system and we’ve seen this is not the answer from the Kangaroos situation.”
The Hawks will get a top 10 selection in this year’s Draft, and currently hold picks 6, 24, 41, 48, 50, 52 and 65.