Tim O’Brien and James Sicily are impressing Hawthorn veteran Josh Gibson as they eye Jarryd Roughead’s spot in the AFL lineup.
Roughead’s PCL knee construction means the three-time defending premiers have an opening for a key forward through the first half of the season.
Gibson said Sicily kicked five goals in an intra club game Wednesday and O’Brien also took some strong marks in attack.
“It’s pleasing those guys are coming on – they’ve been in our system for a few years and they’re the ones really licking their lips,” Gibson said.
The Hawks defender joked that the two friends might not be spending so much time in each other’s company now that they are effectively rivals for a senior berth.
“That’s the competition you want around footy clubs,” he said.
“You want there to be fighting for spots.
“It gets us older guys excited when we see younger guys coming on – it’s really healthy.”
As Hawthorn fans dream of “Fourthorn” this season, Gibson said the players had a much narrower focus.
“Fans are allowed to have fun and throw those things out (at) this time of year,” he said.
“But … it’s a new season, this time of year is about completing as much of pre-season as you can and trying to get wins early on.
“It’s an exciting time – Rough’s gone down and there are probably four spots open from the grand final side last year.
“You see the younger boys start pushing and we saw a lot of that in our practice match.”
Gibson is confident that despite Roughead’s star status, the Hawks can cover his extended absence.
“You’ve seen over our last few seasons, there’s always been some sort of mishap,” he said.
“We’ve had guys missing on the field and we really do play a team-oriented style of football.
“It’s really important we keep preaching that.
“Rough goes out, we bring in another guy who knows the structures really well.”
Gibson also said it was crucial that the Hawks keep modifying how they play as rival teams try to knock them off their perch.
“The last three premierships, you always try to look at doing something new,” he said.
“Clarko (coach Alastair Clarkson) and his coaching staff have been really good at that over the last few years – evolving our game plan, understanding where the game is going and trying to adapt with it.”