Mid-season draftees ready for AFL: Hawks

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson says Jai Newcombe deserved an immediate call-up after being recruited via the AFL mid-season draft.

ALASTAIR CLARKSON
ALASTAIR CLARKSON Picture: Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is backing mid-season draftees Jai Newcombe and Jackson Callow to make an immediate impact this AFL season.

Midfielder Newcombe will make his debut in Friday night's clash with Sydney, while Clarkson is upbeat that key forward Jackson will get "his chance at some point in the second half of the year".

The 17th-placed Hawks are set to miss finals for a third consecutive year, with Newcombe becoming the rebuilding club's sixth debutant of a season that has featured only two wins.

"Jai has played some great footy for us at Box Hill throughout the first half of the season," Clarkson said.

"We selected both of those guys (Newcombe and Jackson) on the basis that they might be able to play in the second half of the year.

"Both have strong enough bodies to do so.

"Jackson was playing some really good footy for Norwood in the SANFL."

Clarkson added the Swans' recent rapid rebuild, fuelled by some talented youngsters, is the model that every club should aspire to.

"It's the reason why we're debuting young players," he said.

"With some sort of luck then our process happens a bit quicker.

"Sydney has done it very, very well over the course of the last 12 months."

Jaeger O'Meara will return from concussion on Friday night, having been called up alongside Newcombe and Will Day.

Sydney have made one change for the match, replacing Chad Warner (ankle) with James Bell.

Clarkson noted former charge Lance Franklin's return to form, after spending the entire 2020 season on the sidelines, came as no surprise.

"Nothing really surprises me with Bud," Clarkson said.

"He'll go down as a Hall of Famer and great contributor to the game."