THE RECRUITMENT of Ben McEvoy has not just unveiled a mobile ruckman who can give Hawthorn yet another avenue to goal but a strong leader who has impressed since his arrival, says assistant coach Luke Beveridge.
McEvoy played his first game in the brown and gold on Thursday night against the Brisbane Lions in the NAB Challenge, and stood strong against former Geelong big man Trent West both in the ruck and around the ground.
Beveridge, who took the reins of the team as part of Alastair Clarkson's pre-season coaching rotation, said McEvoy would be hard to combat this year and had been pleased with what he'd brought to the club so far.
"We got him to the club to play that ruck role and he'll diversify and play some forward as well," Beveridge said after the 131-point landslide win.
"It was really good for him to play with his teammates tonight and really feel a part of it after such a hard training period where he's impressed with his character and his training qualities.
"We've found him to be a really mature young man, an old head on young shoulders, and he really adds to our leadership mix and that's a big bonus.
"It's not just his playing qualities; it's his integrity and his character, so we're rapt to have him at the club."
Livewire forward Cyril Rioli played across half-back and tackled strongly while giving the Hawks excellent drive through the midfield, typified when he went for a two-bounce run through the centre in the first half.
Beveridge said Rioli's athleticism meant the Hawks could potentially use him at both ends this season, having been impressed by the way he handled the shift away from goal.
"He was pretty good back there so that's an option for us," he said.
"He's a very versatile player so it could be an option. We know how lethal he can be up forward and he's developed his midfield game so it will be a matter of what's a priority for us.
"We've got a number of boys who can come in and play in that half-back area, obviously Brent Guerra has retired and we need to make sure there's some success in there.
"To see Derick Wanganeen play the way he did tonight and Matty Suckling coming back in and Taylor Duryea … there's some really good young talent there who can step up so hopefully we've got some options."
While the Hawks easily accounted for the undermanned Lions, Beveridge said they were satisfied with the players' continuing hunger after winning last year's premiership.
He also was buoyed by the successful return of knee reconstruction recipients Suckling and Alex Woodward, and the performance of New Zealand native Kurt Heatherley.
"We're really pleased. Going into your first hit-out against genuine opposition … our players have been craving it, you play against yourselves so often in pre-season," he said.
"There's always that uncertainty about how you're going to go.
"We wanted to give a lot of our younger guys an opportunity too and although we had more experience, we were just really over the moon with how our younger guys went."
Forward line coach Brendon Bolton will coach the Hawks next Friday against North Melbourne, while midfield coach Cameron Bruce will lead them in a practice match against Melbourne on March 8.
Beveridge said the Hawks would use Box Hill practice matches to get game time into players who didn't collect enough in the first few NAB Challenge hit-outs.
Captain Luke Hodge, Josh Gibson, Brian Lake, Brad Sewell, Ben Stratton and Grant Birchall were among those missing on Thursday night.