AFL premiers Hawthorn are on the hunt for a forward-line fill-in for Jarryd Roughead but Ryan Schoenmakers says it won’t be him.
Roughead’s knee injury has ruled him out of the first half of Hawthorn’s premiership defence, leaving a 50-goal gap in the Hawks’ lineup.
Schoenmakers was a valuable pinch-hitter in the forward line on the way to his first flag last season, but was used more by coach Alastair Clarkson as a swingman to solve problems across all areas of the ground.
The South Australian said he was keen to continue in the role that made him an undroppable for the grand final, rather than become an understudy for the absent Roughead.
“I think my role won’t change too much from last year,” he told RSN Breakfast.
“Hopefully it will provide an opportunity for some of the younger guys to step up.”
Schoenmakers nominated two 21-year-olds as more likely beneficiaries of Roughead’s rotten luck.
“Tim O’Brien and James Sicily have had really good pre-seasons,” he said.
“Hopefully, one or two of them can push up and play some regular footy and get some games under their belt.
“It will be really exciting (and) it’ll be great for the team going forward.”
O’Brien has yet to fill Hawthorn’s most prestigious guernsey since inheriting the No.23 from Lance Franklin.
The 193cm forward couldn’t crack the senior 22 last season but is still well-regarded at Waverley and could get his chance in his fourth campaign.
Sicily, a less powerful but trickier player, could find himself stepping up into the AFL line-up should Clarkson opt for a different approach.
Schoenmakers said the balance of the team would change in 2016 with the abolition of the substitute.
“We’re wondering how the coaches will go with that, whether (they go for a) taller or smaller player,” he said.
“We’ve all just got to chip in a bit extra and hopefully pick up where we left off from last year.”
Either way, Schoenmakers said Roughead’s replacement would find big boots to fill.
“He’s such a powerful unit. He plays up forward, he can go in the ruck, he’s got a lot of great attributes and that’s why he’s been such a great player for so many years,” he said.
“He’s going to be tough to replace but we’ll do our best.”