Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge is set to begin his 14th AFL campaign in the Hawks’ second pre-season match against North Melbourne in early March.
The two-time premiership-winning captain, who was a notable omission from the Hawks’ squad for Thursday’s NAB Challenge opener against Collingwood in Launceston, won’t be absent for long, assistant coach Brett Ratten said.
“His campaign will start probably next game and away he will go,” Ratten said of Hodge, referring to the March 8 clash with the Kangaroos in Shepparton.
“We’re really mindful about all the senior players and their preparation leading into round one.”
Hawthorn have included 13 members of their 2014 premiership team in the extended squad to take on the Magpies, but Ratten said Thursday’s game at Aurora Stadium would be more of an opportunity for the club’s up-and-coming players.
“It will be more (about) some of the development of Billy Hartung and the blokes that have actually been in our system,” he said.
“We’ve seen how quickly Bradley Hill jumped up and took the next step really quickly in his development so we’ll see how Billy goes and a couple of those others.
“(Jonathon) Ceglar’s been in really good form on the training track.
“The learning they get out of this game will be really important for their development.”
Ratten confirmed that new signing James Frawley will play in the backline on Thursday and said the former Demon was a welcome addition.
“He’ll fit in really well and play a prominent role for us this season.”
Thursday’s game starts at 7.10pm (AEDT).