HAWTHORN’s Kaiden Brand will make his AFL debut against Richmond at the MCG on Friday night.
The 22-year-old key defender is one of three inclusions to face the Tigers.
Brand will be joined in the side by midfielders Will Langford and Billy Hartung, with the trio replacing Luke Hodge (knee), James Frawley (concussion) and Kieran Lovell (omitted).
GM – Football Operations Chris Fagan said Brand’s debut was well-deserved.
“Kaiden’s a great story of persistence,” Fagan said.
“He’s had a lot of injuries in his time at Hawthorn – particularly shoulder injuries – and it’s great he gets his chance against Richmond.
“He’s been in terrific form for Box Hill and deserves this opportunity – it’s been hard earned, and we’re sure he will make the most of it.”
Brand joined the Hawks with pick 66 in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft, from West Adelaide.
The fourth-year Hawk missed the entire 2015 season with shoulder injuries, but has performed strongly at VFL level in the early stages of 2016, leading to his senior debut.
Both Langford and Hartung return after one-week absences.
“Will is back after a corked quad last week, and he’s looked really fresh at training this week, while Billy comes back after a solid performance for Box Hill,” Fagan said.
James Frawley’s condition had improved after suffering concussion in last week’s match, Fagan said, but not enough to take on the Tigers.
“James steadily improved during the week, but not to the point where we were 100 per cent satisfied that he was ready to play AFL football,” he said.
“We think he will be right for next week, but we have to respect head injuries – we won’t be taking any risks.”
ROUND 7 TEAM
Richmond v Hawthorn
Friday 6 May, 7.50pm
B: Kaiden Brand, Tim O’Brien, Josh Gibson
HB: Sam Mitchell, Ben Stratton, Grant Brchall
C: Bradley Hill, Jordan Lewis, Isaac Smith
HF: Luke Breust, Jack Gunston, Liam Shiels
F: Paul Puopolo, Jonathon Ceglar, Cyril Rioli
Foll: Ben McEvoy, Will Langford, Shaun Burgoyne
Int: Billy Hartung, James Sicily, Taylor Duryea, Daniel Howe
Emer: Angus Litherland, Dallas Willsmore, Kieran Lovell
In: Kaiden Brand, Will Langford, Billy Hartung
Out: Luke Hodge (knee), James Frawley (concussion), Kieran Lovell (omitted)
New: Kaiden Brand