FORMER St Kilda and North Melbourne player Nick Dal Santo says veteran defender Josh Gibson is no longer in Hawthorn’s best side.
Gibson has had a difficult start to the season and clearly struggled against Geelong on Monday, seemingly lacking the confidence and composure that has defined his career.
“He’s not in their best 22 from what I saw yesterday,” Dal Santo said on Fox Sports News’ AFL Tonight on Tuesday.
“It’s an isolated game but it’s been an isolated one month of football that we’ve seen so far.
“They’re all under the pump and it’s an amazing thing how it can change so quickly but it’s a lonely place out there on the MCG when you’re very conscious about what people are saying about you, you really want to perform well.
“But then you start second-guessing yourself and there was a couple of efforts yesterday from Josh that it just didn’t look like him.
“It looked like he wasn’t sure what the game plan was anymore, wasn’t sure if he could physically do it, if he mentally knew what to do anymore and similar to the whole team, I just felt a little bit sorry for them.”
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Hawthorn has the league’s oldest list and its second-most experienced, despite Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis both moving on at the end of last season.
Gibson and Shaun Burgoyne are two of the players to have come under scrutiny so far and at 33 and 34 respectively, are in the twilight years of their career regardless of their current form.
Dal Santo said the Hawks would need to find a way to respectfully transition their older premiership players out of the side, rather than simply dropping them to the VFL.
“They’ve been champions of the game, I have so much respect for the Hawthorn footy club and those individuals,” he said.
“It’s going to be a really tough year going forward because I don’t think they can drop them particularly, I don’t think they’re going to play VFL.
“But there’s got to be a way that they exit them in the right manner.”
Looking forward, Dal Santo said the year would be tough for the Hawks accustomed to years of success.
But he noted it would also be important for the club’s veterans to push beyond their own difficulties and focus on building the right culture for the future.
“The biggest challenge I see for the majority of this group and the older guys that are playing out their career is it’s not about winning at the moment,” Dal Santo said.
“They’re zero and four, they’re in a really difficult position and I can’t see them playing finals so what’s next? How are they going to be able to help this football club go forward in the future … if they’re not there?
“They’re going to leave a legacy of success and winning premierships and that is by far the most important thing, but they’re also going to need to help this next group of players come through.
“You need to accept that you aren’t what you used to be and you go out there and you prepare like you always have and you give all your effort but you get a completely different result … so they need to accept that this is the situation.
“The only thing they can do from here is just help their next group of players come through so when they’re not there, the Hawthorn Football Club can still progress.”
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Originally published as ‘He’s not in their best 22’
SOURCE: newsnow sport