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Hawks look to Kosi's cousin for defensive back-up

New Hawk Jacob Koschitzke has impressed in his 2018 under-18 season - AFL,Draft,Hawthorn Hawks
New Hawk Jacob Koschitzke has impressed in his 2018 under-18 season

HAWTHORN has taken a step towards addressing its ageing key defensive corps, drafting the 196cm cousin of former star Saint Justin Koschitzke. 

Jacob Koschitzke became a Hawk with the No.52 selection after Hawthorn had earlier declined to match Essendon's bid at pick No.38 for Next Generation Academy prospect Irving Mosquito. 

The Hawks would have given up picks No.49 and 91 at the time and received Mosquito and No.72 if they matched the Bombers' bid. 

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That would have almost certainly prevented Hawthorn being in contention for Koschitzke, who was rated a top-30 talent in some circles and represents great value in a draft short on tall defenders. 

The Hawks' national recruiting manager Mark McKenzie told reporters the Bombers' early bid on Mosquito had not taken him by surprise. 

"We thought there'd be a few clubs interested and overall it's a great story for Irving to be on an AFL list," McKenzie said.

"We've been working with him for a couple of years and it's a great story and we wish him all the best. 

"If he was at Hawthorn footy club, it would have been great, but that's the way the industry works … that was just the decision we made with the players we had in our order."

Koschitzke, 18, was held back by injury this year and unable to test at the Draft Combine after hip surgery.

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But his performances at the NAB AFL Under-18 Championships for the Allies saw him named as an All Australian, and only Ben King and Will Kelly were rated higher among key defenders.

The Murray Bushrangers backman is ideal for the Hawks, who still rely heavily down back on 30-year-old James Frawley and Ben Stratton, who turns 30 in March. 

Grant Birchall will also be 31 in January and knee problems have restricted him to five games across the past two seasons.

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Hawthorn was linked with wantaway Gold Coast defender Steven May this year before he joined Melbourne and McKenzie admitted his club did need to look at its backline stocks. 

"Where you address that (is the question). That could be in the Trade Period, whether it be next year or maybe this year, it could have been something looked at as well," McKenzie said. 

"But it just fell that way with our talent order. 

"We've got some confidence in Jacob that he can come in and play a role, whether that be key back – he's played a lot of key forward as well – so we're looking forward to Jacob getting into the footy club."

Koschitzke was handpicked to take part in the AFL's inaugural 'talls camp' this year, which saw ex-Eagle and Kangaroo Drew Petrie coach a group of key position and ruck prospects. 

His marking and kicking ability for his size, his competitiveness and those great genes all appealed to the Hawks, according to McKenzie.

"The family's been a big part of his life and have helped him along to be the player he is today," McKenzie said.

Hawthorn also offloaded a future fourth-round pick to Collingwood for pick 63 – used to secure GWS Academy member and another Bushranger Mathew Walker – and a future fifth-round selection. 

The Giants elected not to match the Hawks' bid for 188cm midfielder-forward Walker, who was also in the AFL Academy.