Main content

Hawks hand 'Worpedo' two more years after strong debut

Worpel's deafening match-winner The MCG erupts after Hawthorn youngster James Worpel scores the sealing goal in the final minute

HAWTHORN has secured one of its priority signings, with second-year midfielder James Worpel declaring his love for the club after committing for a further two seasons.

Clubs are typically keen to re-sign their highly rated draftees ahead of their second season and the 'Worpedo' entered that territory with an impressive rookie campaign. 

The 20-year-old midfielder played 11 matches, including both of Hawthorn's finals, averaging 17.5 disposals (7.2 contested), 3.9 tackles, 3.5 inside 50s and 2.4 clearances. 

Only Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell, Liam Shiels, Jaeger O'Meara, Dan Howe and Shaun Burgoyne had more centre-bounce attendances than Worpel among Hawks onballers. 

He quickly earned coach Alastair Clarkson's trust and is set to assume even more responsibility with Mitchell (broken leg) set to miss most and potentially all of the season.

STRONGEST MIDFIELDS Every club's engine room ranked

"Tom's out for most of the year, so there is an opportunity for us younger boys," Worpel said. 

"It's more about my consistency now and trying to hold that spot in the 22, which would be nice, for the rest of 2019. 

"But there are other boys putting their hands up, like James Cousins and Harry Jones, so it's going to be competitive." 

Worpel also has a big fan in Hawthorn football boss Graham Wright.

"James is a talented young player with an exciting future ahead of him," Wright said.

"He's a great person to have around the club, and obviously he's become pretty popular with our fans, too.

"He had some big moments in 2018. He demonstrated his ability to perform at the elite level and he certainly doesn't shy away from the contest. 

"We're looking forward to watching his development over the coming years."

The boy from Bannockburn, near Geelong, had two highlight-reel moments in particular in consecutive weeks last year.

The first came when the former Geelong Falcons co-captain kicked the sealing goal against Essendon, after keeping his feet in a contest with dual All Australian Michael Hurley.

Then, in round 21, he snatched the Sherrin from Cats champion Joel Selwood's grasp as they charged like bulls from opposite directions, then set up a goal only seconds later.

Worpel was the Hawks' best first-year player in 2018 and his standing at Waverley Park was evidenced in him switching from No.38 to the club's famous No.5 in December.

"The group's really excited for 2019 and we don't know what the future holds for us, but we're super excited," he said. 

"We have people like Chad Wingard coming in and a few new players here and there, so the vibe around the club is really good."