Calsher Dear in action during a Hawthorn training session at Waverley Park on March 28, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

SAM MITCHELL has outlined the steep learning curve that's led the teenage son of a late Hawthorn premiership legend to make his AFL debut on Sunday.

Calsher Dear, son of 1991 Norm Smith medallist Paul Dear, will play for the Hawks against the Western Bulldogs after impressive VFL form since joining the side as a father-son selection in last year’s draft.

Paul Dear died in 2022 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Hawks are urging caution with the 18-year-old, who is a 195cm key forward averaging a tick less than two goals per game in the second-tier competition.

But given Mitchell’s initial impressions of the youngster and his emergence since, the Hawks boss isn’t ruling out a continued quick rise.

"The first month when you get new draftees into your club is always really interesting because they come from different backgrounds, different levels of fitness, different level of professionalism - he was probably, he would say, at the lower-end of understanding," Mitchell said.


"The boys love telling a story, he was in his first couple of weeks and he ordered this fried chicken burger right in front of me and he just was so oblivious.

"It was like, he's got a bit to learn, this young fella.

"He's definitely come from a bit further back and now the acceleration he's had in his growth, and to give himself an opportunity to play is more than we would have expected when he first got to the club."

Dear comes in with fellow forward pillars Mabior Chol (suspended) and Mitch Lewis (knee) missing.

Chol is serving a one-game ban for striking Sydney’s Errol Gulden, while Lewis’ return from a knee injury is listed as 'to be confirmed'.

Paul Dear kicked two goals in the 1991 grand final to help the Hawks beat West Coast by 53 points.

"This weekend Calsher gets to experience this wonderful emotion as he pulls on the brown and gold for the first time just as his father, Paul did in 1987," Hawthorn football boss Rob McCartney said.

"As an 18-year-old key-position player we know Calsher is a developing talent and, whilst we need to be patient, we’re excited to see him take his first step at AFL level."

The Dear family (L-R) Maya, Paul, Calsher, Cherie, Harry and Nate. Picture: Supplied