With Hawthorn reaching its mid-season bye, we caught up with Midfield Coach David Hale to get his review of how each Hawks midfielder is tracking so far this season.

Harry Morrison

Games: 4
Average disposals: 14.5 

“Obviously he’s been playing the last couple of games in the VFL. He’s been in really good form and is playing at a high level. He’s played a few games of AFL this year. Similar to  a few guys playing VFL at the moment, he’s just waiting for his opportunity with the AFL (side) in good form. Harry has just got to maintain the level he's playing at the moment and when the door opens, he’ll get his opportunity and hopefully, he takes it with both hands. But we know that he’s such a consistent and reliable player for us when he plays on the wing, he has good trust with his teammates and if he comes in, he can do a role for us. So he’s just waiting for an opportunity.” 

Jai Newcombe

Games: 14
Average disposals: 22.9

“Jai had a slowish start to the year. He was a little bit disappointed with his first couple of weeks, but he's strung together a consistent couple of months now. So we obviously know he is a good inside grunt player for us and his pressure inside has been really strong. His work rate on the outside to get used in our offensive chain has been critical. In this last little patch of form we’ve been playing, he’s been an integral part of that midfield unit to drive the standards of the other guys around him."

James Worpel

Games: 14
Average disposals: 20.8 

“Worps has had a really good start to the year. Our mids were a little bit below par at the start of the year but Worps was really consistent and strong to start the first three to four rounds. Since then, he’s been really consistent in his defensive pressure, which Worps wasn’t probably renowned for in the past but he’s taken that to another level this year. The contested possession rate itself hasn’t been as important to Worps because of the stuff he’s been doing in that area of the game so that’s something we’ve been really proud of in what he’s developed. He’s been able to add another string to his bow along with his inside 50 work. He hasn’t always had the greatest reputation in terms of his skill but he’s worked really, really hard at his kicking, especially his kicking inside 50. I think the evidence this year that people would see is the connection he’s had with some forwards, which has been really impressive.”

Ned Reeves

Games: 4
Average disposals: 8.3
Average hit-outs: 22.8

“It's been an interesting year for ‘Noodle’. The new ruck rule has impacted a little bit on him in terms of it becoming more of a wrestle now at the centre bounce. So we've been working on that during the course of the year, which he’s made progress in. A real focus for ‘Noodle’ is impact around the ground. Obviously we know his ruck craft, he can get hit-outs, so the focus for him is the other parts of his game – follow-up, clearance and aerial impact. We're just trying to really round his game and add more strings to his bow.”

Changkuoth Jiath

Games: 5
Average disposals: 9.2

“It's great to see CJ back. He’s obviously had a frustrating run of injuries in the last 18 months. He’s strung together three or four games now, which has really been encouraging for him that his body can hold up. Hopefully now, not that his form’s been bad, but hopefully we can start to see the athletic CJ, the confident, take-the-game-on run from CJ which we all know he can do. We've got faith that with the prep he’s had underneath him now that he's back half of the season can be really strong.” 

Conor Nash

Games: 14
Average disposals: 18.4 

“Nashy’s been integral to our midfield. He’s a big-bodied mid who can run. With his pressure on the inside and his physicality, he helps those other guys around him. He can play multiple roles. He's obviously done a lot of ruck work these last six weeks as a second backup ruck which has been really important. We really try to encourage him to use his athletic profile and his strengths to be able to run. At his size, not many guys have got that gift so we’ve really been pushing him to get a little bit more outside. We know he can do the contested stuff inside, but trying to utilise his athletic profile on the outside is the next step for Nashy.”

Will Day 

Games: 8
Average disposals: 20.9

“Daysy’s our BnF winner, he's an important part of our midfield and our team. He’s got a really high footy IQ. He missed a fair chunk of footy and it probably took him a couple of weeks to get going back to the high standards he sets himself. He’s really skillful with ball in hand and the thing that’s underrated on the outside is how tough Daysy is on the inside. He’s really tough, he loves to tackle and to press. He's always throwing his body in. When you look at him, you don't think of that, but he's genuinely tough. The other guys love playing with him, so it’s been great to have him back in the midfield.” 

Massimo D’Ambrosio

Games: 13
Average disposals: 20.5

“Mass gets reward for effort. He always spends a lot of time on his craft and he comes in and watches vision. He's very diligent and is trying to get better, he's just turned 21. The amount of work that he puts in behind the scenes that not many people see is probably reflective of his year. He’s had a really consistent year. Contest and ball use has been a feature of this game. He's been really clean in the contest which is off the back of the stuff he does behind closed doors. We’re really happy with his first half of the year and how he’s integrated into the group and the trust that they feel with him is off the back of the hard work he's put in.” 

Lloyd Meek 

Games: 10
Average disposals: 14
Average hit-outs: 34.1

“He’s similar to Mass. I’ve known him for a long time. He spends a lot of time trying to get better and trying to get the most out of himself. So to get the consistent block of games that he's had and the impact he's had on games has been really important. It's good that the guys who put in the work behind the scenes get that reward and I think the synergy he's built with the midfield after a few weeks, understanding what skills he brings to the table in terms of his follow-up, his competitiveness and his ruck craft has been really strong. He will continue to get better in the back half of the year.” 

Cooper Stephens 

Games: 0

“Coops has been very interrupted. He had a setback in the pre-season which obviously affected his pre-season block. He played a few games and then has had on-and-off issues that have just sort of curtailed his ability to play consistent footy and be able to train week in and week out. So we all know if you miss a block of pre-season and you miss chunks of the pre-season itself, it's hard to be able to string consistent performances together. Fingers crossed he can get over it after the bye and string some games together to see the real impact he can have as a mid and a big body guy inside.”

Josh Ward 

Games: 6
Average disposals: 14.2

“He’s in a similar boat to Harry I suppose. He's playing some good consistent footy at VFL level and waiting at the door for it to open for him. I suppose the mids have been consistent in this last block of games. The things we're focusing on for Wardy to work on is to just play as a genuine inside mid and work on these contested ball situations, his tackling and his pressure. We know he's a great decision-maker with ball in hand and he works really hard from contest to contest and that's a different fit to some of the players that are playing at AFL level so he's similar to Harry, when the door opens, he will take his opportunity.  We've been happy with the work he's done at VFL level.” 

Cam Mackenzie  

Games: 14
Average disposals: 14.3  

“Cam’s similar to Wardy I suppose. He’s that second-year player who can play inside mid and a little bit of wing. He’s a good decision-maker, we know he’s feeling more confident with ball in hand. It’s probably taken him 15 to 20 games to really show that when he’s got ball in hand, time really does stand still. We’re starting to see that more in games. His contested work and stoppage craft have continued to improve. His development’s been really pleasing and we’re really happy with how much he’s grown in this pre-season block to the mid-season bye. He’s been really consistent.”

Finn Maginness  

Games: 8
Average disposals: 14.1

“Finn’s had multiple roles and we’re just trying to settle him into one spot. We know he can tag and he can do that role at the drop of a hat. He can also play a little bit down back, a little bit on the wing and a little bit as inside mid. In the past few weeks, he’s played inside, which has seen him get plenty of the ball and use his running capacity as well. He’s just waiting for an opportunity, whether that be through injury or form and if he continues to stack it up. It's hard to leave these guys out week in, week out but it shows that we're building some good depth.”

Henry Hustwaite 

Games: 4
Average disposals: 6.5   

“Huss had a really good summer, he came back in really good condition. The development from where he left to when he came back was really stark. His fitness and body size really changed. He had a really good pre-season and played some games early and then a couple of games as a sub. Then he had a couple of concussion issues, which sort of knocked him around a little bit. He's taking a little bit of time to get his feet back under him. But we're confident in the back half of the year that the work he did during pre-season will come back to the fore and we can really see what Huss does.”

Clay Tucker 

Games: 0

“Tuck, similar to Huss, made big, big strides in terms of his fitness and his body shape. He’s had a few niggles where he's missed games here and there. Especially as a young ruck prospect, it takes a little bit of time to one, add the size and two, add the confidence that he's able to compete at VFL level consistently. We’ve worked pretty hard with him on his ruck craft. He's actually a pretty good mark when he gets himself in a good position. He’s similar to Noodle in a way with being able to impact, not just in his ruck work, but his follow-up and aerial stuff is really important. We will be looking forward to seeing him continue to develop in the back half of the year.” 

Watch David Hale’s mid-season review below.