Nick Duxson reports-
AFTER playing a handful of games across the past two seasons, first-year Hawk Lachlan Langford was cautious with his expectations for this season.
A lifelong Hawks supporter, Langford, who grew up idolising the likes of Luke Hodge and Sam Mitchell, joined the club with pick 53 in the 2014 Rookie Draft.
With stress fractures in his back, the 19-year-old wasn’t expecting to play much football this season.
But he has managed to stay injury-free and play all 14 games for Box Hill Hawks’ undefeated development team, and has loved his first year as a Hawk.
“I’ve played about five or so games in the past two years, and I haven’t missed a game this year,” Langford said.
“It’s really good to get a bit of continuity about my football and hopefully I can go from there.
“It’s been awesome so far – I’m still sort of pinching myself.
“This was the dream when I was growing up. I couldn’t really believe I’d been given the opportunity to be in the AFL system.”
Langford described his first year as a “learning experience” – both on and off the field.
Playing for Hawthorn is essentially his first job, and he’s enjoyed the challenges that come with being a full-time footballer.
“Coming straight out of school, it’s not too big an adjustment in lifestyle I suppose,” he said.
“This is essentially my school now, five days a week but all footy.”
The young utility said he was enjoying his football at Box Hill, and after a consistent run of games is looking forward with confidence.
“My goal for the rest of the year is to play consistent footy,” Langford said.
“Best case scenario, I’d love to crack into the senior VFL side before the end of the season, but with two games left the reality is that’s probably unlikely.
“I just want to gather some momentum going into the finals and take that into next year and push to play senior VFL footy next year.”
Playing a variety of roles on field has been a big part of his development, and he’s determined not to lock himself into one position so early into his career.
“Early on I started off as a half-forward… but I’ve been pushed through half-back for a bit and also pushed onto a wing,” Langford said.
“Over the past five or six I’ve played the majority on the wing, I spend a bit of time forward every now and then, but the majority on the wing.
“I’m still a young player – I’m not a wing just yet, I’m not a half-back and I’m not a half-forward just yet. I like to think I can play across all three lines and that’s something I really want to be able to do, have that versatility about my game.”