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Hawks coach Mitchell explains decision to drop top 10 draft pick


Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has explained the selection decision to drop top 10 draft pick Cam Mackenzie.

After a strong start to his first AFL season, Mackenzie was omitted for this weekend’s clash with the Western Bulldogs, but Kane Cornes admits he was shocked to see the young midfielder dropped.

“I can’t believe he has been dropped,” Cornes told SEN Sportsday.

“He only had 15 touches (against Adelaide), only five kicks, but every time he touches it, something happens.”

While Mitchell concedes Mackenzie didn’t do a lot wrong to be axed, he says the decision was made for the 19-year-old to head to the VFL to play with freedom and earn more midfield minutes.

“The thing with those guys is we’ve brought in a fair bit, so I wouldn’t call it swinging the axe for nothing,” Mitchell said on SEN Breakfast.

“We’ve brought in a fair bit of talent and experience and those guys had a really good discussion with them yesterday, they’re not doing a lot wrong.

“In Cam Mackenzie’s case, he's played every game for the year.

“One of them was as the sub, and he just has had quite the same level of confidence (since), his output has been ok.

“But we just want him to just go and play with a bit of freedom.

“It's a lot of pressure on these young lads and everything they're doing is so heavily scrutinised.

“So, to just go and play with a little bit more freedom, get a bit more midfield time and spend a bit more time around the middle of the ground I think it will be good for, for him in the long term.”

For Saturday's clash against the Bulldogs, Hawthorn brought in Josh Ward, Josh Weddle, Max Ramsden, Mitch Lewis and Will Day, with Mackenzie making way alongside Connor Macdonald, Denver Grainger-Barras, Jack Scrimshaw, Max Lynch and Ned Long.

After making sweeping changes, Mitchell was asked how we went about informing the axed players.

“It's really interesting because there was quite a few of them this week,” Mitchell replied.

“They had quite a different way of taking it.

“Some players are like, ‘What do I need to do?’, and really want rational discussion, while some probably a bit more emotional.

“I try to keep them short and then stay available for them, get them on the phone or go and see them half an hour or an hour later once they've taken in the information.

“There’s a bit of an art to it, but it is easily the most difficult part (of the job).

“But you can’t feel sorry for yourself as a coach because it’s much better being on my side of the conversation than on theirs.”

After two tight losses, the Hawks will look to bounce back when they face the Bulldogs at 4.35pm (AEST) on Saturday at Marvel Stadium.


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