Hawthorn will dish out its fifth AFL debut against St Kilda on Saturday in midfielder Jordan Lewis’ 200th match.
Quietly and efficiently, Hawthorn are rebuilding while at the top of the game.
The reigning premiers will hand out their fifth AFL debut of the season against St Kilda on Saturday, more than any other club bar Brisbane.
It’s an ominous sign for the rest of the league that the club can call on so many AFL-hardened youngsters.
But coach Alastair Clarkson says their rejuvenation – including new ruckman Ben McEvoy – has been less by necessity and more by circumstance.
“It hasn’t been something that we sat down and said we need to reinvigorate our side with these young players,” he said.
“It’s mainly been these lads are ready to play.”
And at 5-1, Hawthorn have shown no signs it’s costing them wins.
The latest new boy, Billy Hartung, is another speedster best known for setting a draft record beep test result of 16.6.
He joins Tim O’Brien, Derrick Wanganeen, Angus Litherland and Mitch Hallahan as the class of 2014.
But perhaps more important for Hawthorn’s title defence is the return of Ryan Schoenmakers.
Schoenmakers hasn’t played AFL since round four last season following a knee injury against Fremantle, and has been named at centre half-forward.
The South Australian has played 64 games in six seasons but mainly as a key defender.
Clarkson said it was time for him for Schoenmakers – who played most of his junior footy as a forward – to contribute at both ends.
“Where he actually settles we’re yet to actually determine,” he said.
“But we’d like him to be able to swing from one end of the ground to another.”
In midfielder Jordan Lewis’ 200th match for Hawthorn, the fixture allows Clarkson to tread the path untaken – with St Kilda debuting Blake Acres against them.
Both Acres and gun rookie Luke Dunstan were taken with picks given to them by Hawthorn as part of the Ben McEvoy deal.
Dunstan has impressed so far this year with his hardness at the ball but concussion has made him one of five changes to the St Kilda lineup.
Eli Templeton (arm) and Tom Hickey (foot) will miss through injury while Josh Bruce and Sebastian Ross have been dropped.
Former Gold Coast man Mav Weller makes his St Kilda debut, joining Adam Schneider, Tom Simpkin and Billy Longer in the side that will celebrate Jarryn Geary’s 100th game.