If the All Australian team was to be named today, Ricky Henderson would arguably be the Hawk most likely to be picked. Henderson has been stunning in the opening 11 games of the year, averaging 26.9 disposals per game. As big an ask as it is, the Hawks will be relying on the 30-year-old to continue this hot streak into the second half of the season.
With Essendon set to be boosted by the returns of Dylan Shiel and Jake Stringer this week, the Hawks will have a tough, combative midfield battle on their hands. No Hawthorn player embraces the fight more than the ever-reliable Liam Shiels. A tackling machine, Shiels will be relied upon to apply both defensive pressure but also win the ball himself against the Bombers.
You get the sense Luke Breust may be in for a big performance on the Friday night stage. Breust may not be blowing you away right now with his year to date, but the fact remains he leads the club for goals kicked to date in 2019. Somewhat quiet in the last fortnight, kicking just one goal, if the Hawks are to win, you’d expect the two-time All Australian forward to hit the scoreboard on multiple occasions.
Dyson Heppell averaged just shy of 30 possessions per game in the month leading up to his team’s bye last week. The season has not exactly gone to plan so far for the Bombers, but the captain seems to be doing everything possible to get the campaign back on track. One of his side’s most damaging clearance players, the Hawks will be looking to clamp down on Heppell on Friday night.
The Bombers leading goal kicker in the opening half of the year, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti is enjoying his most damaging season in front of goals. The 26-year-old is a barometer for his side with his 19 goals this year all coming in Essendon wins. The forward’s forward 50 impact isn’t just limited to offensive influence though, with only Dayne Zorko and Paul Puopolo laying more forward 50 tackles than McDonald-Tipungwuti in 2019.