James Blanck and Changkuoth Jiath both suffered injuries at Hawthorn's intraclub match on February 15, 2024. Pictures: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN will be without James Blanck for the entire 2024 season after the key defender ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during Thursday's intra-club at Waverley Park, while Changkuoth Jiath has suffered a fresh soft tissue strain that will sideline him for a couple of months.

Blanck knew he was in trouble after landing awkwardly in the second half, immediately banging the turf in pain and frustration before being helped off the ground by two trainers.  

The Box Hill Hawks graduate established himself as a permanent fixture in Hawthorn's backline last year and has just earned a two-year contract extension, but scans on Thursday afternoon have revealed the worst possible outcome.


It was a nightmare day on the injury front, with the Hawks set to start their season without four important players.  

Luckless dashing defender-wingman Jiath cast a dejected figure walking off the ground before half-time after suffering a hamstring injury. Scans later revealed a moderate-grade strain, which will sideline the game-breaker for up to eight weeks.

The 24-year-old had completed almost the full pre-season program to date and spent the Christmas break training at an internationally renowned sports medicine facility in Qatar in a bid to overcome his frustrating run of soft tissue injuries.

With just a month between now and Hawthorn's season opener against Essendon on March 16, Blanck and Jiath have joined star midfielder Will Day on the sidelines

The reigning Peter Crimmins Medallist has already been ruled out of round one and may miss the first month of the season after suffering a stress fracture in his foot at the start of the year. 

Vice-captain Dylan Moore is also in doubt for the clash against the Bombers at the MCG after being diagnosed with glandular fever on Wednesday. The gun half-forward is expected to be sidelined for up to a month, but hasn't been ruled out of featuring in the second practice match against the Western Bulldogs in Launceston if he recovers swiftly. 

Dylan Moore in action during Hawthorn's clash against Fremantle in round 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Meanwhile, key forward Mabior Chol has produced an early sign that he can recapture his best form in 2024 after a standout performance across 4 x 25-minutes quarters in perfect conditions at Waverley Park.

Chol finished with a handful of goals to continue a strong block to start the year.

The 27-year-old was traded from Gold Coast on deadline day last October after being starved of opportunities in 2023, despite kicking 44 goals during a breakout campaign in 2022. 

He arrived at the club still recovering from a PCL injury but has completed the full program since the Hawks reported back for pre-season in January. 

After breaking through for a debut in round 23 last season and playing the final two games, tall midfielder Henry Hustwaite pressed his claims for a spot in the midfield against the Bombers with a clinical display in the intra-club. 

With Day sidelined, the Dandenong Stingrays product has impressed during the match simulation block and caught the eye again on Wednesday, weaving through traffic, hitting difficult targets and kicking a brilliant goal on the run in front of Hawthorn icons Peter Hudson and David Parkin. 

Prized pick Nick Watson put on a show alongside Jack Ginnivan, showing why he was selected at pick No.5 last November with moments of brilliance inside 50, including a couple of clever goals. Ginnivan built into the game, finishing with some classy moments in the second half to provide a one-two punch with 'The Wizard'. 

Gun defender Blake Hardwick showed he can be effective inside 50, kicking three goals playing as a forward in the new-look attack. 

The Eastern Ranges product was the leading goal kicker in the 2015 TAC Cup before being drafted by the Hawks, but has spent most of his AFL career in defence before swapping ends this pre-season. 

Connor Macdonald (three goals) continued his strong pre-season with another decent performance, while Max Ramsden (three goals) was impressive in attack as he hunts more opportunity in 2024 after playing two games last year. 

Connor Macdonald celebrates a goal during Hawthorn's clash against Carlton in round 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Box Hill key defender Ethan Phillips played in the intraclub and could be considered by the Hawks before the pre-season supplemental selection period deadline on Monday. 

The 2022 Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medallist has trained with the AFL program across the pre-season after moving from Port Melbourne and could provide greater defensive coverage behind James Sicily and Sam Frost.

Hawthorn faces the Western Bulldogs in a practice match at the Whitten Oval next Friday morning.