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Roughy's heir apparent takes another step forward

Mitchell Lewis celebrates a goal against Geelong with his Hawthorn teammates - AFL,Hawthorn Hawks,Mitchell Lewis,Tag-Analysis
Mitchell Lewis celebrates a goal against Geelong with his Hawthorn teammates

THE ELEPHANT in the Waverley Park boardroom has long been Jarryd Roughead. 

Roughead is a champion and continues to play an important bridging role, at age 32, for a Hawthorn forward line that is set to be overhauled sooner rather than later. 

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A key discussion took place last week about that future, with developing big man Mitch Lewis at the centre of it.

That chat ended with the towering kid – selected with a pick from the Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis trades in 2016 – being chosen for his third AFL game on Easter Monday against arch rival Geelong.

Lewis, at 198cm and pushing 100kg, is the most obvious answer on the Hawks' list in the post-Roughead era, which is rapidly approaching.

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The whisper is Hawthorn didn't go quite as hard as it possibly could have in last year's Tom Lynch sweepstakes because of the 20-year-old's presence. 

It came after Lewis booted 38 goals in the VFL last season and proved himself as a contested-marking beast who can also go into the ruck.

His first two AFL games in 2018 were nothing to write home about, but his overall campaign was seriously promising. 

Lewis seemed primed to break into the Hawks' side from the start of this year, but patchy performances in pre-season matches – other than an exciting glimpse against Richmond – suggested he wasn't quite ready. 

Instead, Jon Ceglar resumed his ruck partnership with star big man Ben McEvoy and did his bit in attack, while Lewis battled away at state league level. 

The change was made for this week and it coincided not only with Ceglar being dropped but All Australian forward Jack Gunston going into defence.

That left Roughead and Lewis as Hawthorn's tall targets, although Roughy also served as the ruck deputy. 

It was as if coach Alastair Clarkson was saying: "Show me what you've got, Mitch." 

Ricky Henderson gifted Lewis, opposed mostly by dual Cats club champion Mark Blicavs, his first goal from the square in the opening term. 

It was just reward for his efforts, given how hard he worked for everything else he got.

 

One of the priority areas for Lewis was to be more consistent throughout games and to better stay involved. 

He deserves a tick for that from Monday's game.

Lewis worked hard up the field to present, regularly brought the Sherrin down from aerial contests inside 50 – Paul Puopolo was one beneficiary – and was even effective at ground level, too. 

He outscrapped two Geelong defenders at one stage in the second quarter, tapped the ball away, then followed up to handball into Isaac Smith's path for a goal. 

Lewis wears a big tackle from Geelong's Jordan Clark. Picture: AFL Photos


Two terms later, he fought hard on hands and knees and managed to set up a Jaeger O'Meara major as the Hawks made one last rally. 

In between, Gunston, who was largely ineffectual down back, started the final quarter in attack with Lewis on the bench.

However, Roughead's heir apparent returned and was again active in what was easily his best AFL display.

The numbers looked good as well: 14 disposals (10 contested), four marks, one goal and, most impressively, 10 score involvements. 

Change is coming as Hawthorn continues to move on from the flag three-peat, and Lewis is a significant piece of the puzzle.

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