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Hawthorn will hope a rag-tag group of recruits – including returning veteran Jack Gunston – can fast-track their ascent out of the bottom four.
After missing out on Ben McKay, Esava Ratugolea and Liam Henry, the Hawks still brought in an equal-trade period-high four players: Gunston, Jack Ginnivan, Mabior Chol and Massimo D’Ambrosio. Essendon, Sydney and Port Adelaide also scored four recruits.
In a hectic trade period for Sam Mitchell’s team, they also offloaded Tyler Brockman (West Coast), Jacob Koschitzke (Richmond) and Brandon Ryan (Brisbane), who joined Hawthorn as a mid-season draftee only five months ago.
Arrivals at Hawthorn: Mabior Chol, Jack Gunston, Jack Ginnivan and Massimo D’Ambrosio.Credit: Getty Images
Twelve deals went down on deadline day, including Ivan Soldo and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher joining Port Adelaide, Jack Billings becoming a Demon on a two-year deal, Xavier Duursma getting to Essendon, and Elijah Hollands following his brother Ollie to Carlton.
But Dylan Shiel stayed at the Bombers despite St Kilda inquiring about him, and Melbourne resisted Adelaide’s overtures for contracted swingman Harry Petty, even though he expressed interest in returning to South Australia.
The Hawks initially insisted they would not trade Ryan, after Gunston – who departed for Brisbane 12 months ago – blindsided them with a trade request last week that they could not originally guarantee could be met.
“It did surprise us,” Hawthorn list boss Mark McKenzie said. “[For the request to come] this recently, this late in trade period, anything does like that, but if we go back 12 months ago, we wanted Jack to be with us for the next two years, so I think he does fit our strategy.
“We know what a star he’s been for the club and the AFL as a whole … to get that experience in the forward line was important.”
The Lions presented 25-year-old Ryan, a long-limbed 200-centimetre forward who is the cousin of star Docker Luke Ryan, with a three-year offer after he kicked four goals in three AFL games.
Ryan met with Brisbane coach Chris Fagan last week while visiting his uncle in Queensland, and they never relented in their pursuit. The Lions sent Gunston, picks 47 and 61, and their future second-round selection to Hawthorn for Ryan, picks 39 and 54, and a future fourth-round choice.
It is still unclear why Gunston wanted to return to the Hawks just one season into a two-year deal, but Lions list boss Dom Ambrogio speculated it could be for family reasons, after his father Ray died last year.
“‘Fages’ [Fagan] was understanding of Jack’s position and then obviously once we were able to get a deal that we were happy with, that suited us, we were happy to facilitate it,” Ambrogio said.
Ginnivan’s switch comes only three weeks after he played in Collingwood’s grand final triumph, and followed ex-Docker and fellow small forward Lachie Schultz’s arrival at the Magpies.
There was conjecture on Tuesday about whether Ginnivan’s camp or Collingwood drove the move, but Pies football boss Graham Wright was adamant on deadline day that it was the player’s call.
“He [was] a contracted player, a premiership player, 20 years old, and we were pretty clear we saw it that way,” Wright said. “It was Jack’s decision to look elsewhere. In the end, we appreciate that, we accept it, and we move on … Jack is a premiership player, and will be a premiership player forever.”
Essendon were predictably involved in the last two trades of the period, with the deal to get Duursma and part ways with Zerk-Thatcher deal, rounded out by a bunch of late picks from the Bombers, finalised with just 30 seconds on the clock.
Port Adelaide wanted the Bombers to give up their future second-round pick, along with Duursma, but outgoing list manager Adrian Dodoro said the club did not entertain that option.
“We would have walked away rather than give up the future of the club,” Dodoro said.
Essendon also tried to convince D’Ambrosio to remain but eventually allowed him to take up a two-year deal with the Hawks after receiving late picks in return.
There was ambiguity around whether he could join Hawthorn as a delisted free agent, with the Bombers contesting whether he should be allowed to move on that basis. Eventually, it was a non-issue, but the AFL will re-examine the rule.
Geelong’s football boss Andrew Mackie held out until the last day on the Ratugolea deal, hoping to squeeze something extra out of Port Adelaide, beyond pick 25, and ended up securing selections 76 and 94 on top.
As for Soldo, Richmond’s general manager of football talent, Blair Hartley, said the Power’s offer was compelling enough to trade the contracted ruckman, who was previously courted by the Western Bulldogs and Giants.
“It’s been the last two or three years with Ivan having significant interest from other clubs,” Hartley said. “Holding him under contract, when he’s got an opportunity to go elsewhere and an opportunity for us to look after ourselves as well, it works well for everyone.”
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