Senior Coach Sam Mitchell says Hawthorn’s 2023 midfield mix is a work in progress, on the back of shared dominance from Conor Nash, Jai Newcombe, James Worpel and Will Day.

Pushing his case for more time in the middle is super sub Connor Macdonald, who had 14 disposals and nine tackles from 41 per cent game time against West Coast last week.

Although he spent some time in the midfield during Sunday’s game, Mitchell said it has been tough for Macdonald, and many other players, to break through for extended minutes.

“I think the midfield minutes are a difficult balancing act and David Hale’s done a fantastic job with that group,” he said.

“But the consistency of Nash, Worpel, Day and Newcombe, with a bit of Mackenzie, or a bit of Moore, or a bit of McDonald, or a bit of Ward through the early part of the year, means that you have to really make your opportunities count when you get them because they weren’t perhaps as frequent as they were last year.” 

Mitchell also pointed out a pair of young Hawks showing positive signs for Box Hill in recent weeks, with Henry Hustwaite and Bailey Macdonald on the verge of appearing in the senior side.

Hustwaite is coming off 26 disposals and six tackles while Macdonald had 21 touches and seven score involvements while playing off half-back against Southport.

“Those guys have probably gone from ‘we would play them if we had to’ to ‘yep, we could definitely play them’ and now, it’s like we want to play them,” Mitchell said.

“But they still have to earn their spot, and I think the great challenge about where our list is at now is, despite us not being very high on the ladder, there is depth.”

Turning his attention to Saturday’s clash against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium, Mitchell said his Hawks were up to the challenge. 

“We’ve got a pretty good challenge this week against a pretty strongly coached St Kilda outfit,” he said.

“I remember playing against Ross Lyon actually and I remember that you’d call for the ball and you’d wonder why they didn’t give it to you and you turn around and there’s always someone right there.

“Defensively, they’ve been really sound and quite hard to score against from turnover for the majority of the year.

“I think when they play well, they’ve put teams away but they have been scored against in the last couple of weeks so it’s given us a couple of paths that we can go down.”

Hear more from Mitchell’s press conference below.