Targeting top-end talent over positional needs at the pointy end of the national draft is set to be Hawthorn's priority in this year's selections, according to club’s National List and Recruiting Manager Mark McKenzie.
Speaking to Talking Hawks on Monday, McKenzie said with the trade period now over, the recruiting team’s attention has swiftly pivoted to November's draft.
“During the trade period you try to bring in players that might help you now and through the future as well, and fill some gaps from a team perspective,” McKenzie said.
“But with the draft you will normally go talent – position still comes into play if it’s between one or the other – but ultimately you want to go talent.”
The club secured a trio of forwards on the final day of the trade period last week, with Mabior Chol, Jack Ginnivan and Jack Gunston joining the brown and gold.
McKenzie said the club’s approach during the trade period was opposite to that of the upcoming draft, with a clear intention to bolster the forward line.
“We’ve been able to bring in some guys who have a natural goal-sense and aerial impact,” McKenzie added.
“If we go back to this time last year after the draft, we had a lot of midfielders but not a group that had cemented their spot yet.
“We’ve seen Will Day move into the middle, Jai Newcombe back up a strong season, Conor Nash have a breakthrough year and James Worpel come back from injury.
“They’ve progressed and gelled pretty quickly as a group, and we still think we’ve got some depth there as well with the likes of Josh Ward, Cam Mackenzie and Henry Hustwaite.
“Now we’ve got some new forwards in, hopefully they can start to work themselves out, especially the talls.
“We need to find more shots on goals, and we think these guys can do it.”
Draft picks can be traded between now and November 10, as well as on draft night itself, with West Coast’s Pick 1 the most notable asset still up for grabs.
While the Eagles look likely to keep its top pick, McKenzie said the club wouldn’t shy away from continuing to have conversations around the prized selection.
“We’ll keep asking the question (about Pick 1) – but again it’s about what West Coast’s priorities are, that’s what it will come down to,” McKenzie explained.
“From our end, we’ll keep asking the question - if they were to move it, North Melbourne could potentially be in the box seat for that, but who knows.”
The Hawks currently hold Picks 4, 44, 47, 49, 62, 63, 83 in the upcoming draft, with Pick 4 being the highest selection the club has had since 2005 when it secured the services of Xavier Ellis with Pick 3.
McKenzie said the club was eager to retain its top selection.
“At the moment we’re planning to keep that pick – we’ll finalise our order and then you can do your ‘what if’s’ about what can happen with trading picks and things,” McKenzie said.
“There is still more interviews, psych analysis, reference checks and the likes to do, especially at this point of the year.”
McKenzie also gave an insight into Coach Sam Mitchell’s role during the draft.
“Sam is obviously part of our discussions, he gets involved in some interviews, especially in this last month in the lead up,” McKenzie said.
“We give him some information he goes away and does his own research, which is great and then will come as part of our group at different periods over this time heading into the draft which is fantastic.
“That’s what a coach who’s early in their head coaching career should be doing, which he’s done in the first two years, he makes you think in a different way.”
Listen to the full chat with Talking Hawks below.