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Sis steals the show

Marc McGowan  February 10, 2018 4:56 PM

The Intraclub Wrap Want all the intraclub info in a hurry? This news wrap will sort you out.

FIREBRAND Hawk James Sicily stole the show as Hawthorn gave its best indication yet on Friday night of what its first-choice backline to start the season will be.

Sicily started down back for the orange team in the Hawks' intraclub clash at Waverley Park, alongside James Frawley, Ben Stratton, Ryan Burton, Blake Hardwick and Shaun Burgoyne.

The 23-year-old shot to prominence last year as an intercepting defender after previously making his name as an exciting but erratic forward.

Sicily picked up in the intraclub where he left off last season, taking bulk intercept marks and using his neat skills – whether long or short and from kick-ins – to launch his side into attack.

Hardwick, who demonstrated a more attacking flair to his game at half-back on Friday night after a breakout 2017 season that included a Rising Star nomination, was impressed with his teammate.

"He was really good and capped off how he finished last year," Hardwick told AFL.com.au.

"He took a lot of intercept marks and he reads the ball really well and that will be him (playing in defence) this year, I'm pretty sure."

Luke Breust dishes out an acrobatic handball. Picture: Michael Willson
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The one negative from the game was a minor groin injury sustained by Frawley early in the third quarter.

He hobbled from the ground and went straight to the Hawks' medical staff before disappearing into the rooms for the rest of the night.

All Australian Grant Birchall (knee) and Kaiden Brand (thumb) were the most significant absentees from the Hawks' defensive stocks.

Other players who sat out were Cyril Rioli – who recently returned from the Northern Territory, where he was on compassionate leave – Isaac Smith (ankle), Jon Ceglar (back stiffness), Will Langford (finger), Conor Glass and Kurt Heatherley.

Some players switched sides at half-time, but the blue team, including Jarryd Roughead, Jaeger O'Meara, Luke Breust, Tom Mitchell – in the first half before joining the orange cause – and Jack Gunston won by 26 points.

Read: Graham Wright's standouts for Hawthorn's intraclub

O'Meara looked incredibly fit, had no tape on his once-troublesome knees and played most of the contest, resting once a quarter, in an encouraging hit-out.

Hawthorn fans also got their first proper look at ex-Port Adelaide dasher Jarman Impey and last year's draftees – and should have walked away pleased.

Impey had turns at centre bounces and on the wing, and displayed his breakneck speed and versatility to also be dangerous up forward.

Box Hill recruit David Mirra, playing for the blue team in defence, displayed his trademark composure from his VFL days and is steadfastly reliable by foot.

The 26-year-old will most likely start round one in state-league ranks, but looks a viable AFL option.

Strong-bodied Geelong Falcons graduate James Worpel spent time in the middle and pushed forward for a couple of goals, while Jackson Ross' kicking skills were a highlight.

The Hawks also look to have found a player in Sudanese athlete Changkuoth Jiath, a rookie-listed forward developed in the club's Next Generation Academy in Gippsland.

Jiath elevated for a strong overhead mark early in the second term that set up a goal for the orange squad, then minutes later snapped a wonderful goal of his own from barely inside 50m.

"CJ provides a lot of energy around the group – he's always up and about – and you can see how athletic he is," Hardwick said.

"He's good to watch, so I'm sure he'll be a good player in the future."

Hardwick, who joined Hawthorn with pick No.44 in the 2015 draft after leading the TAC Cup with 56 goals as a small forward, will remain in the backline this season.

"I'll be staying down back … I've trained just for the backline this year," the 21-year-old said.

"I just want to get some consistent games in and play like I did last year and play most of the games. 

"To do that, I'll have to get more of the footy and work on my skills."