THEY finished in the top four in 2018 and enjoyed a strong trade period which saw them add the likes of Chad Wingard and Tom Scully to their list. But two AFL greats say the Hawks will slide down the ladder in 2019.
Speaking on the Trade Lowdown, Brad Johnson and Nick Dal Santo said the club overachieved last season and would struggle in 2019.
“ I think they finish 15th,” Johnson, who graded the Hawks’ trade period B+, said.
“I think they had a good year last year but maybe they overachieved.
“I think they drop off, with the draw they may have, a top-six draw, straight out in the finals, I think this is a team that may drop away before we see some growth away when some of the ageing players move on over the next couple of years.
Nick Dal Santo was only marginally more favourable to the Hawks, predicting they will finish in 14th position next season.
“I think what they did this year, they overachieved with the list they currently have,” he said.
“I think they have 12 months with this current list and in 12 month’s time there is significant change.
“I don’t think they were ever a genuine chance last season with the list they had.”
Dal Santo pointed to the Hawks’ ageing list as justification for his assessment.
“They’ve got nine players that will be over 30 next season,” he said.
“I know the game changes quickly and leg speed is probably one of the first things that go.
“I think they’ve brought in some really good players but i’m probably more concerned with next year and the year after that with this evolving club.
If there is one person who could lift the Hawks, however, it is their champion coach Alistair Clarkson.
“The little sprinkle, the little asterisk is, who their coach is, and the way they get the job done under Alistair Clarkson.
“But I see them taking a big step back. I think a lot of clubs are going to improve and they’re actually going to pass (Hawks) on the way.”