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Hawks hand young defender Hodge's No.15

The Hawks with their new numbers. Picture: Getty Images - AFL,Hawthorn Hawks,Blake Hardwick,James Sicily
The Hawks with their new numbers. Picture: Getty Images

HAWTHORN has underlined the hopes it has for emerging defender Blake Hardwick, by handing him one of the most revered jumper numbers at the club.

The 20-year-old will wear the No.15 jumper, which belonged to Hawk star and triple premiership captain Luke Hodge before his move to the Brisbane Lions at the end of last season.

"He’s one of the greatest players to wear the jumper, so it’s a big honour," he said at Waverley Park on Saturday. "I can’t wait to get going."

Hardwick came to the club as a small forward in 2016, but moved to the backline last year and played 19 games to be one of the most improved players at the club. He said he expects to play as a permanent defender from here.

The Hawks pulled a bit of a surprise with fellow defender James Sicily moving from No.21 to the No.6 of recently retired dual best and fairest Josh Gibson. Sicily’s switch to the backline last year, where he assumed the sort of intercept marking and third man up role formerly played by Gibson, was one of revelations for the Hawks in 2017.

Sicily’s former number will now be worn by midfielder Kieren Lovell.

Port Adelaide recruit Jarman Impey has been given the No.4 jumper, previously worn by Billy Hartung, now at North Melbourne, while Ty Vickery’s No.27 goes to fellow big man Marc Pittonet.

The draftees' numbers are David Mirra (32), Dylan Moore (36, formerly Lovell's number), Jackson Ross (37, formerly Hardwick's number), James Worpel (38), Harrison Jones (40) and Changkuoth Jiath (43, formerly Pittonet's number).

The Hawks trained for more than two hours on Saturday morning in warm conditions at Waverley, with Ben Stratton, who missed more than half of last season because of a PCL injury, looking most impressive.

Jack Gunston, who became a defensive reinforcement in 2017 because of a glut on injuries to key backmen, played as a forward during match simulation and also looked good.

Among those who trained but didn’t take part in the extensive match play work included Impey, Tom Mitchell, Jarryd Roughead, Ben McEvoy, Will Langford and Grant Birchall.