James Blanck handballs during the R24 match between Hawthorn and Fremantle at the MCG on August 26, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN skipper James Sicily doubts he could have reacted the way James Blanck has handled his season-ending knee injury.

Hawthorn's intraclub match took a heavy toll on Thursday, with Blanck rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament and Changkuoth Jiath out for six-to-eight weeks because of a hamstring injury.

Blanck's absence will leave a significant hole in Hawthorn's defence for Sicily and others to cover.

Asked how Blanck was coping, the Hawks captain said the initial signs were encouraging.

"He's brave - yesterday he came to team photo day. That's a good response, I don't know if I would have done the same thing," Sicily said at the Hawks' family day on Saturday.

"It's pretty shattering, knowing you're going to miss a whole year, and then smile for team photos."


Sicily knows how big a blow it is for Blanck, having missed the 2021 season because of an ACL rupture.

"Obviously life's not fair sometimes, particularly in Blancky's case, where he put in an enormous amount of work in pre-season," Sicily said.

"To go down with 28 days to go until we play, it's a gut-wrenching feeling.

"I have enormous confidence in his ability to return to where he left off, because I went through the same thing with the same people who helped me out at the club.

"I don't know it yet, but there will be some silver lining out of him missing - it always creates an opportunity for someone else."

James Sicily during Hawthorn's pre-season training session on November 13, 2023. Picture: Supplied

Jiath's fresh setback follows injuries last season that sent him overseas for treatment.

"He's pretty gutted, he's obviously done a lot of work to get his body right and then he injures something else," Sicily said.

"A bit of perspective for him is that he hasn't done what Blancky's done ... although it is frustrating for him."

Changkuoth Jiath looks on during the R6 match between Hawthorn and Adelaide at UTAS Stadium on April 23, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Despite Thursday's injury disaster, Sicily remains upbeat about what the young Hawks can achieve this year.

"We beat some good teams and dropped a couple of games (last season), which were probably through a lack of maturity and experience," he said.

"That gives me a lot of confidence. We beat the two teams that played off in the grand final.

"(Also) understanding that we lost to Freo and Sydney and some other teams, where we genuinely looked like a bottom-four side.

"But you'd expect growth on what we did last year and I'm optimistic."

While Blanck's absence will hurt Hawthorn in defence, Jack Ginnivan's trade from Collingwood has helped boost their attack.

"Hopefully we fit them all in, because they all kick heaps of goals. It's exciting and it's definitely changed the whole dynamic," Sicily said of their greater depth up forward.

After a hitout next Friday against the Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn will take on the Dogs again on March 2 in Launceston before their round-one game on March 16 against arch-rivals Essendon.