HOW TALL is too tall?
That is the question Hawthorn's match committee will mull over the next week, ahead of the club's round two showdown with arch-rival Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night.
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There's already been significant debate about the merits of playing long-time ruckman Ben McEvoy in defence alongside James Frawley, Sam Frost and medium-sized options James Sicily and Ben Stratton.
McEvoy's redeployment enabled the Hawks to convince Jon Ceglar to remain at Waverley Park, instead of accepting Brisbane's overtures, but the next dilemma is down the other end.
Power forward Jon Patton's off-season arrival presented coach Alastair Clarkson with the option of a three-pronged tall attack, with Mitch Lewis and Tim O'Brien.
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O'Brien's pre-season eye injury and Lewis' ankle complaint on season eve mean we're yet to get a proper look at how that combination might work.
Lewis is fit again but it's unclear where he fits in Hawthorn's immediate plans, given he played in the Hawks' 'seconds' on Friday in their last match simulation before round two.
Patton and O'Brien were part of the first-choice line-up, with versatile tall Jack Gunston also stationed inside 50.
That might just be smoke and mirrors but it was noteworthy, nonetheless.
"We're still weighing it up," Clarkson said of the potential of adding Lewis to his forward line.
"I haven't looked at Geelong in real great depth at this point in time, because I don't want to get too excited, too early about the forthcoming opposition.
"I'll start to do that across the weekend, look at their side, look at our side, and work out what the best mix is.
"We need to work out what our availability is with (Jaeger) O'Meara and (Blake) Hardwick … which may help shape the way we're going to play, too, or the way we select our side."
Hawthorn dropped Lewis midway through last season but he returned with a vengeance from round 16, averaging 2.2 goals, 2.5 contested marks, 3.3 marks inside 50 and 14.2 disposals.
Adding further complication to the situation is that Lewis' inclusion would probably mean dropping one of veteran Paul Puopolo or the emerging Ollie Hanrahan, who was a good round one performer.
Luke Breust and Shaun Burgoyne are the only certainties among Hawthorn's smaller fleet up forward, while Chad Wingard will spend time there, on top of going through the midfield.
McEvoy, O'Brien, Patton and Lewis are all back-up ruck options to spell Ceglar, although the shortened quarters this season mean that is less of a priority.
The Hawks have a largely healthy list, with only Jarman Impey (knee), Dan Howe (foot) and Will Golds (knee) already ruled out for round two.
O'Meara (facial fracture) and Hardwick (chest) are both hoping to face the Cats.
Category B rookie Changkuoth Jiath, who made his AFL debut last year, sat out the fourth quarter of match simulation on Friday, after appearing to hurt his left hamstring.
However, Gunston, first-round draft pick Will Day, Conor Glass, Michael Hartley and Mathew Walker all took part in simulation after being on varying limited duties a week ago.
A good moment for Mathew Walker in the Hawks’ match simulation today. Not so good for Harry Morrison - but he was in the ‘A’ team, which was a good sign for his R2 prospects pic.twitter.com/fC8W3hZGA8— Marc McGowan (@ByMarcMcGowan) June 5, 2020
Hardwick and Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell both again wore blue, no-contact caps but played unencumbered, while Harry Morrison played for the stronger team, even with Hardwick in the side, so that might be another pointer to selection next week.
The Hawks marked out the GMHBA Stadium ground dimensions onto Waverley Park for the game of four 20-minute quarters.