The 2014 AFL season has seen a new generation of superstars make their mark on the competition – to celebrate, the AFL Players’ Association is calling on all footy fans to help pick this year’s 22Under22 team. Click here to create yours.
Amidst a Hawthorn playing list littered with premiership stars, there’s a generation of emerging Hawks that are continuing to step up, and are set to have a big say in September.
Hawks captain Luke Hodge shared some insights into the development of these talented youngsters in 2014.
The exciting 22-year-old has maintained his brilliant goal-kicking form from last season and is averaging more than two goals per game. With one round remaining, Gunston has kicked 46 goals – the same amount as last year.
Hodge said: “He’s made a huge impact since moving across from Adelaide. He’s still very young and was someone who played such an important role in our finals series last year. He could have almost won the Norm Smith.”
Asked about Gunston’s off-field character, Hodge said:
“Unfortunately I’m only a couple of lockers from him and it can get a bit annoying… but he’s a great person to have around the footy club.”
The wingman has further impressed this season with his fast pace on the field. The 21-year-old is ranked second at the club for goal assists and has become the key to the Hawks’ outside run.
Hodge said: “He’s been outstanding and he’s had a real on-field impact for our club.”
“He’s a bubbly person who you just want to have around at your footy club.”
Langford has excelled since his move from defence to the midfield. The 22-year-old was dropped midway through the season but fought his way back in Round 17 and has been impressive ever since, averaging more than four tackles per game.
Hodge said: “He’s not your standard footballer, but in saying that he comes from a rugby background. He’s hard at it. He’s a physical person on the footy field which I love.”
“He’s a different character. He’s someone you love to have a conversation with because you just don’t know where it’s going but I really enjoy being around him.”
The first year player’s remarkable foot skills have made him one to watch in 2015. In his six matches this season, Hartung has averaged almost 7 kicks and booted two goals.
Hodge said: “He’s still finding his feet, but his work ethic around the footy club and on the training track is one of the best I’ve seen.”
“You can tell he just wants to get better.”
A regular for Box Hill in his first three seasons, Litherland finally crept up the ranks this season, making his debut in Round 2. The 21-year-old has filled a number of spots left by more experienced defenders, and will be one to keep an eye on in 2015.
Hodge said: “I’ve had a bit to do with Gus, playing down back.”
“His development has improved since he’s started playing seniors. He’s quick. He can play on talls and smalls and he’s impressed a lot of his teammates.”
The final 22Under22 team will be announced at the AFL Players’ MVP Awards on Tuesday, September 9. You can vote for Gunston and Hill by selecting your 22Under22 team here.