Four-time premiership Hawk Jordan Lewis has suggested his old coach Alastair Clarkson may need to consider whether he has the energy to go through a full rebuild of the club.
Hawthorn has the oldest list in the competition and currently sits in the middle of the pack, following losses to GWS and Collingwood.
Lewis feels the team needs an injection of young talent and should rebuild through the draft as they did when they set up their premiership success back in the early 2000s.
However, he wonders whether Clarkson would want to coach through a period of bottoming out.
“I think (Clarkson) said on the weekend he’s realistic on where the club is at. No doubt he’s the best coach in the league, but whether you want to go back down that rebuilding phase, because it’s not quick, it’s a three-to-five-year process,” Lewis told SEN Breakfast.
“So whether he has that energy in him or whether it’s a Sam Mitchell who’s just sitting in waiting who has that energy and the smarts and the football IQ to take over the reigns and take that club forward through the transition period.
“As we saw on the weekend, their backline has no creative players apart from James Sicily and Hawthorn for a long period of time has relied on not necessarily winning stoppages or contested ball, but having that advantage down in their back six and being able to transition the ball really smartly and creatively and they just don’t have those players.”
When asked whether he was saying the Hawks should transition to Sam Mitchell as coach in the next 12 months, Lewis said it fell to Clarkson and whether he wants to go through a rebuild.
“I think you’ve got to look over your list demographic, you’ve got to look at the inconsistencies of the season and their best players right now are Isaac Smith who’s 31 and I still think he’s got a few years left in him, you can’t keep rolling out the same players,” he said.
“The hardest thing to accept is ‘okay we may not be successful of the next two to three years, but we need to go down a path of getting in youth’.
“That’s the decision I think Alastair Clarkson and the Hawthorn Football Club needs to make because the worst position to be in is to be between 10th and 6th where you’re not really challenging, but you’re not getting high talented draft picks in.
“I’m sure they’re aware of where they’re at and where their list demographic is at and the chart they need to follow, but a rebuild is highly zapping for a coach that’s been around for so long.”
Lewis feels Hawthorn needs to decide whether they can continue topping up this list or whether they need to hit the draft hard.
“I think they’ve got some serious questions. With the parity in the AFL, it’s hard to buy premierships,” the premiership Hawk said.
“You really do have to look at the past, well certainly the AFL era, the sides that have had long sustaining success have gone through the draft.
“Hawthorn has a decision to make – where do they want to be in five years? They currently sit 13th with the oldest team in the league. You’d rather be 18th with the youngest team and getting experience into these guys and try to build a side off the back of that.
“I don’t necessarily like the term rebuild, but Hawthorn has got a serious question to answer. Do they have to go down that path because what we’re seeing at the moment, it’s inconsistent, but yet there’s no young kids coming through that they can build a side around like a Lance Franklin or a Jarryd Roughead to have that 10-to 15-year period of success.”
Clarkson came out in 2019 and said he will “never walk away” from his commitment to the Hawks.
This came as clubs like Carlton and North Melbourne were searching for new coaches and he was linked with a move out of Hawthorn.
The four-time premiership coach is contracted to the Hawks until the end of 2022.