Jack Gunston during the match between the Western Bulldogs and Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium in R8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its 2014 premiership at the MCG on Saturday, while one member of that famous three-peat – Jack Gunston – celebrates his 250th game against Adelaide on Saturday. 

The three-time premiership player started his career with the Crows before being traded to Hawthorn at the end of 2011, then moved to Brisbane after the 2022 season before returning to Waverley Park after 12 months in the Sunshine State. 

Hawks coach Sam Mitchell played in the 2013, 2014 and 2015 flags with Gunston and had a key say in his return to the club last October, explaining that his impact between games is as important as what he produces every weekend in winter.

"If you look at Jack Gunston's career at Hawthorn, including the year away, and you watch his growth as a person, he came to the club when we were on top of the ladder and he didn't need to produce a lot of leadership because he was part of a successful team that was winning a lot," Mitchell told reporters on Thursday. 

"If you look at his last few years, he probably didn't have the reputation as a great helper of people but in my first year as a coach he was a great leader of people and was really helpful. Going away and coming back he has been even better, he has doubled down on that. 

"I think the contribution of his career, you really break it into two: he has been great at kicking goals in big games and being a big game player. The second part of his career, we look internally and the impact he is having on our group and our forward line and our leadership programs.

"I couldn't be prouder of what he is doing off the field. What he is doing off the field I was really confident in him doing and I think some of our social media stuff has been able to show our fans why we brought Jack back, despite him not being part of our age profile that we might not be looking for. He has been massive."

Jack Gunston celebrates a goal during the match between Hawthorn and Brisbane at Marvel Stadium in R11, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Ruckman Lloyd Meek didn't train on Thursday and isn't expected to face Adelaide after sustaining a low-grade syndesmosis injury in the 25-point win over Brisbane last Sunday, opening the door for Ned Reeves to play his first senior game since being dropped after round two, while prized pick Nick Watson is available for selection. 

With Crows star Izak Rankine still sidelined with a hamstring strain, Hawthorn will consider recalling Finn Maginness to tag All-Australian midfielder Jordan Dawson, given the tagger’s success on Adelaide’s captain in the past. 

"I think Jordan Dawson is as important to Adelaide as any player is to their team across the competition," Mitchell said. 

"His ability to take a game away from the opposition – you saw it in the first quarter last week – he is going to be a massive player for them. We are going to need to curtail him, whether that's with Finn or a different match-up. He is a star."

Finn Maginness in action during the match between Hawthorn and Sydney at the MCG in R7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Luckless key forward Mitch Lewis still doesn't have a return date from the knee cartilage injury that has sidelined him since Easter Monday, with the Victorian unlikely to return before the Hawks' mid-season bye in round 15. 

"I wish I had some more clarity," he said.

"He trains some days and then he pulls up the next day fantastically well and then sometimes the next day he doesn't feel great. I think the medical team are going to have a more solid timeline in the next week. At the moment, we don't have a clear 'this is when it’s going to be.' He is starting to move better. This last week has been an improvement."

Denver Grainger-Barras, Mitch Lewis and Sam Mitchell during Hawthorn's training session at Waverley Park on April 19, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Mitchell supported the AFL's decision to make an in-season tweak to the holding the ball rule after the League announced on Wednesday morning that players will be given less time to dispose of the ball after being tackled, following strong comments from coaches across the weekend. 

"I think it shows how quickly you can make a change when you're really motivated to make one," he said.

"We will all watch the Thursday and Friday night games with a fair bit of interest to see how they are adjudicated. We've shown the players the vision that the players have sent. Everyone can watch the games and see what is paid."

Mitchell also backed umpires receiving in-game feedback from a coach or official at the ground, after The Age revealed senior coaches have approached the AFL seeking clarification about the practice.

"I probably have a different take on it. I think everyone acknowledges and recognises umpiring is really difficult, so anything that makes their job easier I think is a positive," he said.

"If they are talking to each other, if they are getting advice on different aspects of the game and that makes their job easier, I think they should be doing that. Anything that helps umpires with decision-making is what we should be doing. If we have that technology I don’t know why we wouldn't use it?"

After starting the season 0-5, Hawthorn has recovered significantly to be 4-7 after winning three of its past four games, around a game they should have won against Port Adelaide but coughed up late.