With some determination and hard work, a lot can change in the space of a year.

Someone who knows this all too well is Hawthorn star midfielder Conor Nash.

After his career was at a crossroad following just 10 games across 2020 and 2021, Nash was able to show glimpses of his capabilities as a midfielder towards the backend of what loomed as a make-or-break 2022 campaign.

While a new contract came amidst that season, the hard work wasn't over. 


It wasn't until last year that the Irishman was able to find the spark he needed, but even that didn't come easy.

Named as the medical substitute for Hawthorn's 2023 season opener, Nash was consequently left out of the starting 22. 

But after being activated an showing enough in limited game time, he broke into the line-up the following week.

From there, the competitive beast went on to play every game for the year.

In the space of 12 months, Nash went from being a fringe player, to becoming a permanent fixture in Senior Coach Sam Mitchell's best 22. 

Recording significant improvement across several domains in 2023, including average disposals (+8.5 more than 2022) and clearances (+1.8), Nash relished the greater responsibilities that came with forming part of the club's new-look midfield.

Prior to Round 5 last year, he hadn't collected more than 24 disposals in a game, now he has only dropped below that figure a handful of times since.


2023 Average

2022 Average




Contested Possessions









Standing up on stage in front of more than 1,000 attendees at the club's best and fairest last October, he accepted not only the Most Improved award, but also finished third in the race for the Peter Crimmins Medal.

After finishing 12th in the count in 2022, in a season in which he became just the 10th Irishman to reach 50 games, the 25-year-old remarkably surged higher up the board in 2023.

“It was certainly a step up last year in my own game, I relished the role inside as a midfielder,” Nash said, speaking to SEN’s Dwayne’s World on Wednesday.

"Before the start of 2023 I didn't really know where I sat, I played a bit inside but not really that regularly in 2022, so it was nice to put together a decent season last year. 

"Entering last year, we didn't really know who was going to be in our midfield, it took a few games to figure out who was going to be in there.

“If I can stay there (in the middle) I’ll be pretty happy, but we know what the game is all about versatility as well."

Nash said with a mindset shift he was able to hone in on his strengths, rather than focussing on his weaknesses. 

Now with his focus set on the 2024 season, he'll look to continue to do just that.

"Mitch (Sam Mitchell) trialled me as an inside midfielder at Box Hill initially, he said to me 'there was plenty of things that we could improve in my game, it will be a slow burn in the background, but let's get back to your strengths,'" Nash explained.

"He said 'there is not many 197cm midfielders who can run pretty well, so use those strengths,' and when he put it like that, it's a bit like rugby, which was my main background I came from in Ireland.

"So for me, it was about playing the role as the bigger presence inside and use my tackling skills as well.

"I look to build upon that again this year and improve some other aspects of my game, like going inside 50, having a bit more polish and trying to develop my aerial silks as well.

"I thank my coaches for really installing that confidence and belief."


While Nash is looking forward to what the new season brings for himself, he is also keeping a keen eye on his fellow teammates who will be looking to make a similar impact to him. 

He said he was impressed by a number of new recruits, who are currently preparing for their first seasons in the brown and gold.

“Jack Ginnivan has been great,” Nash said.

“On the field he’s fiery and does things his own way, but he's been great and we've loved the way he’s fitted in in the last few months and we're looking forward to seeing what he can do.

“Mabior Chol is also part of that new-look forward line – he’s been really good, I've loved watching him in our match simulations, he has got a big presence up forward and rarely misses when he's in front.

“Nick Watson is another one who is fiery across the field as well, but we love that - he’s got a bag of tricks and is certainly showing them, so hopefully we see a lot of that this year."