Hawthorn’s mid-season recruit Ethan Phillips set to confront key players from the Bulldogs.

Hawthorn’s latest addition, Ethan Phillips, is poised for a potential debut in the opening round as he faces off against the Western Bulldogs’ formidable tall forwards in Launceston this Saturday. The 24-year-old defender will test his skills against Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, and Rory Lobb in the final practice match for both teams, following a solid performance in the Hawks’ senior lineup during their previous encounter at Whitten Oval.

Phillips will join captain James Sicily and Sam Frost in the key defensive positions, with Karl Amon also likely to bolster the Hawks’ backline in his first pre-season match. The decision to rest Josh Worrell, Jack Gunston, and Harry Morrison for the fixture is part of a cautious approach by Hawthorn’s football management, ensuring their readiness for the Round 1 clash against Essendon.

While Gunston and Morrison’s involvement in the season opener remains uncertain, Essendon recruit Massimo D’Ambrosio and Finn Maginness are vying for spots across halfback and in the half-forward line, respectively. Youngsters Henry Hustwaite and Cam Mackenzie are slated to start in the midfield, while Bodie Ryan, last year’s No. 46 pick, has earned a place in Hawthorn’s 26-player squad, potentially setting the stage for an early-season debut.

In other developments, Adelaide welcomes back key defender Jordon Butts from a foot injury ahead of their clash with West Coast. Josh Worrell and James Borlase are competing for a spot in Adelaide’s backline, contingent on Butts’ fitness. Forward duo Josh Rachele and Izak Rankine feature prominently, while Sam Berry and Matt Crouch are also named in the starting lineup, with Crouch on the bench.

For West Coast, veterans Jeremy McGovern and Jack Darling have overcome minor injuries to play their first pre-season matches. However, the Eagles will be without Oscar Allen and Reuben Ginbey due to injury concerns. With Matt Flynn sidelined with a hamstring tendon injury, other ruckmen on the Eagles’ list, including Callum Jamieson, Harry Barnett, and Coen Livingstone, will have an opportunity to stake their claims. Loch Rawlinson and Tyrell Dewar are also in contention for a senior debut.

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