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Hawks eye young guns

Tuesday, 24th May, 2011

GOOD IMPRESSION: Hawthorn scholarship holder Dylan Stuart impressed AFL club officials with a standout display in the Miners Cup. PICTURE: Peter Argent GOOD IMPRESSION: Hawthorn scholarship holder Dylan Stuart impressed AFL club officials with a standout display in the Miners Cup. PICTURE: Peter Argent

By Darrin Manuel

As Broken Hill rejoiced in its Miners Cup win on Saturday, AFL club Hawthorn also had good reason to celebrate the form of a couple of local players.

The Hawks have gifted youngsters Dylan Stuart and Heath Caldwell in their AFL NSW/ACT Scholarship program, and club officials were in attendance on Saturday as the pair dominated against Woomera Districts.

Stuart broke the game open with his blistering speed, while Caldwell set up numerous attacking moves from the wing and half back line.

Hawthorn's General Manager of Player Personnel and Strategy, Chris Pelchen, said the club was pleased with what their prospective recruits had shown.

"We were very happy with the boys, particularly Dylan, he played very well.

"Obviously you don't recruit players off of one game, but that game gives us another part of the overall picture."

Hawthorn will have priority access to the two boys at November's AFL draft - a luxury given that the new Greater Western Sydney team will be looking to snatch up the best young players this year.

"As everyone knows this year's draft is heavily compromised so we're all looking for that hidden gem," said Pelchen.

"Clubs are looking wider than ever before, so we're very pleased that we can make the decision on boys like Heath and Dylan before other clubs."

Pelchen said the club had been monitoring Stuart and Caldwell closely since offering them scholarships in 2009, and cited significant progress from both players.

"Dylan has been working hard on his fitness base in the last 12 months, which was something he'd struggled with for the first two years - struggled to run out games.

"He's got speed, but it's his endurance that needed improving and he's done that with some specific training while in Broken Hill.

"It's translating into his games, he can be more dangerous for longer periods. He's a natural wing/half forward and if he's going to make it at AFL level that's where we'd see him.

"Heath is a bit different, he's a genuine inside midfielder, and he reminds us a lot of Josh Carr.

"He's hard, determined and he gets in and under, his greatest asset is his ability to win the contested ball.

"His kicking has improved, he's a left footer and although he doesn't have great penetration, he can really pick his targets.

"We're very pleased with how they're both progressing."

There was more good news for the Hawks over the weekend with fellow scholarship holder Tom Kickett outstanding in the VFL reserves.

Kickett was best on ground for the Box Hill reserves in their clash with North Ballarat at Eureka Stadium, continuing Hawthorn's positive link with the Silver City.

"We've had a good history with the Scholarship program, we've got one Broken Hill boy already with the club in Thomas, and prospectively could have two more in six months time," said Pelchen.

"We're very pleased with the association we have with Broken Hill."

The Hawks trio may not be the only ones under the AFL microscope however, with a number of recruiters reportedly watching the Miners Cup with interest.

Greater Western Sydney Academy coach Dale Tonkin said representatives from a number of AFL and SANFL clubs were in attendance.

Mr Tonkin said he would also send DVDs of the game out to other AFL clubs in an effort to showcase Broken Hill's footballing talent.

"It gives the clubs the opportunity to see the potential of some of our players. Broken Hill footy is alive and healthy," he said.

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