Hawthorn have been regarded as a top 4 team ever since they won the flag in 2008, but are experts rating them too highly? If you look at what the Hawks have done in the past 3 years, you will find a large amount of inconsistency and underachievement.
2008 – Finishing 2nd on the ladder with 5 losses, and going on to win the premiership against the highly fancied Geelong, inflicting only the 2nd loss on the Cats for the season.
2009 – A poor season for various factors, with ups and downs, yet never gaining any real momentum, and coming down to round 22 against the Bombers for a place in the finals, in which Hawthorn took a 28 point lead in to half-time, only to be savagely attacked by a rampantly determined young Essendon team, with then skipper of the Bombers, Matthew Lloyd, sacrificing his career to put Brad Sewell in hospital, and subsequently, put Essendon into the finals (where they didn’t last long). Not only did Hawthorn lose that game, Max Bailey ruptured his Anterior Crucial Ligament (ACL) for the third time, and hasn’t played senior football since, several players were suspended, and Hawthorn missed the finals and finished 9th. The first team since Adelaide in 1999 to miss the finals the year after winning the premiership.
2010 – Things started on the back foot at 1-6 after 7 rounds, then steadying to finishing 12-9 and 1 draw. Great comeback only losing 3 out of the last 15 games of the regular season. But as we all know, history says that you have to finish in the top 4 to have a significant impact in the finals. So losing to Fremantle in Perth and finishing 7th was regarded as an underachievement by many, and in 2011 Hawthorn are expected to be in the top 4.
Can Shaun Burgoyne have an impact like Shane Crawford did? Will David Hale step up to replace Robert Campbell? And does Ben Stratton’s season ending knee injury have a major impact on the team? Or can Josh Gibson fill the role, with help from Brent Guerra, Grant Birchall, Stephen Gilham and perhaps Tom Murphy? Will those players be good enough, or is Hawthorn’s defence just too weak to be a threat this year? Will Chance Bateman and Rick Ladson return to their 2008 form? Are the premiership heroes from 2008 satisfied with winning only one flag in their careers? These are the questions that must be answered.
Many have predicted Hawthorn as the number one challenger to the reigning champions, Collingwood. Geelong had something to say about this last round, overcoming a raging start by the Hawks, and winning by 19 points. Cyril Rioli tearing a hamstring, Luke Hodge barely having an impact, and Cam Bruce struggling to fill the role he was recruited for.
Is this just the start of problems arising once again at Waverley? Or will the club be a force to be reckoned with in 2011 like the experts have predicted? Have your say now.