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A year of milestones for Poppy

JLT2: Match Highlights Hawks v Blues Relive the close match under lights in Tassie as the Hawks went down to the Blues in JLT2.

After an injury-interrupted 2017 campaign, Paul Puopolo was back to his explosive self in Hawthorn’s narrow JLT2 loss to the Blues.

The crafty forward booted two goals from four shots at goal, whilst also managing 16 disposals and eight score involvements to help keep his side in touch, before the Hawks eventually fell by five points.

“We didn’t finish off our work unfortunately,” the three-time premiership player said. 

“I think there were plenty of good signs, but we just need to be a bit cleaner. 

“You just have to focus on the endeavour and effort of the guys, and the score line will take care of itself once we finish off that work.

“We’re getting the ball in our forward 50 and we’re setting up plenty of shots on goal, so I think we’re in pretty good stead and are ready for Round 1.” 

Read: Match report - Hawks fall to Blues

As the side prepares for the 2018 season, Puopolo, who celebrated his 30th birthday in December, has another exciting challenge on the horizon.

A smile sweeping across his face, the veteran Hawk confirms he and wife Carmel are expecting their first child.

“I was speaking to a few of my teammates about it, it definitely gives you a bit of added motivation,” he said. 

“Roughy said it too, it gives you a that extra bit of drive to work hard, as your kids are going to grow up and you want to be the best possible role model for them.” 

Baby Puopolo is expected around the 26th of June which, looking at Hawthorn’s fixture, could cause a slight hiccup. 

“It might be close to the Tassie game when we play Gold Coast, I’ve already worded Clarko up about it,” he laughed.

“Hopefully it comes a bit early, but you never know with that kind of thing so we’ll just play it by ear. 

“I’m really excited, I can’t wait.”

And although the most important, fatherhood will not be the first milestone Puopolo celebrates this year. The Hawks’ pocket rocket set to chalk up 150 games against Geelong in Round 2 – an achievement he will only reflect on once the four points are secured.

“First things first, we’ll be focused on getting the win,” he said.

“I think that makes it more exciting, if you can get the win, you get to celebrate with your mates and then you can look back and reflect on it down the track.” 

Despite a solid JLT hit out, Puopolo is weary of the need to look after his body to ensure he can reach such milestones, and ultimately get the most out of his AFL career.

“I had a few hiccups last year where I was playing a bit sore,” he said. 

“So my main goal for this season is just to try and look after myself.

“Obviously I’m getting a bit older so I’ve got to respect the body a little bit, I can’t just go 100 miles an hour all the time anymore. 

 “It’s just about being a bit smarter on the training track and during games.”

With the pre-season competition now wrapped up, the Hawks look ahead to the home and away season, where they will play a blockbuster Round 1 clash against Collingwood in a fortnight’s time.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs