Speed and endurance is perhaps the one thing that plagues the mighty Hawthorn midfield. The Hawks have stockpiled strong inside players like Alex Woodward and Mitch Hallahan as replacements for veterans Brad Sewell, Sam Mitchell and Luke Hodge.
One issue that the aging Hawks have faced though is legitimate quickness. Aside from Cyril Rioli and Isaac Smith, the Hawks don’t have many speedsters who can spend reasonable amounts of time through the middle. They also lacked a quality tagger, although they’ve never really needed one.
Whilst the acquisitions of Dayle Garlett and Ben McEvoy were big talking points over the off season, the most valuable pick up was the extraordinary Billy Hartung.
The 24th pick in last year’s draft will make his debut tonight against the Lions, and may even line up against pick seven James Aish, the man he so impressively tagged at last year’s National Championships.
Coach Alistair Clarkson and tough nut Jordan Lewis have sung Hartung’s praises over the off season, as the entire cohort has been impressed by his wonderful athletic capabilities.
The small midfielder dominated the TAC Cup for the Stingrays. His ability to rack up the ball and kick 55-metre running goals is undeniably impressive. But what’s more important is his speed, evasiveness and endurance.
Breaking the beep test record for the combine with an astonish 16.6, Hartung has a motor like no other player. He is extremely fast too, with great acceleration. His ability to quickly spin or change direction at full tilt will be pivotal, as he will get crushed in tackles with his light frame.
You need to look no further than his goals in last year’s TAC Cup Grand Final to see why so many are excited by his potential. Despite the Stingrays copping a hiding, the dual sided jet slotted two electric goals on the run in what proved to be the Stingrays only joy on the day.
At 177 cm, it’s going to take some time before Hartung can make a consistent impact. But beware, he has all the traits of a young Gary Ablett Jr and with the quality around him, he could very well reach his full potential.