Roughead a vital cog of Hawthorn machine

James Sicily certainly doesn’t lack for confidence.

Just witness his exuberant celebrations after kicking the match-winner for Hawthorn against the Western Bulldogs back in round three.

The 21-year-old has done a good job in the opening couple of months of the 2016 season, slotting 13 goals from eight matches as Jarryd Roughead was sidelined with a knee injury.

The Hawks currently sit sixth on the ladder as they chase a record-equalling fourth straight flag.

The improving Sicily – who has managed 11 matches since being nabbed by the Hawks in the 2013 draft – has played his part in that 6-2 start to the year.

But he would be the first to admit he’s no Roughead – at least not yet. And in all likelihood, not ever.

In essence, the knockabout Roughead is irreplaceable,

He is one of only six Hawks to have been a member of the 2008, 2013, 2014 and 2015 premiership teams.

That elite group also includes Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Cyril Rioli, Jordan Lewis and Grant Birchall – all of whom could well up as club Hall of Famers.

Roughead sits comfortably in that company.

A two-time All-Australian and a multiple top-three finisher in the club best and fairest award.

Even more importantly, he was able to elevate his game to a new level when close mate Lance Franklin jumped ship to join Sydney after the 2013 flag.

A total of 491 goals from 231 games since debuting back in 2015 tell only a fraction of the story.

The 29-year-old is hugely popular with teammates, club officials, opponents and fans.

Now Roughead faces the fight of his life as he battles a recurrence of cancer.

The club is understood to have ruled out the prospect of him returning to football this year.

Right now he has more important things to worry about.

But the Hawks will need to regroup and press on without him this season as they look to equal the record of the legendary Collingwood team which won four straight flags from 1927-30.

The next step is a headline clash against Sydney at the MCG on Friday night.

“It’ll be hard,” an emotional Jordan Lewis told Fox Footy on Tuesday night.

“But as harsh as it is, you’ve just got to move on in a way. I think Roughy would want that.

“What has happened, has happened and we’ve just got to beat it.”

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