PREMIERSHIP coach Robert Walls has expressed concern over the worrying trend in Jaeger O'Meara's start to 2017, with Walls suggesting the Hawthorn recruit has lost confidence in his body and kicking skills.
While O'Meara and fellow pick-up Tom Mitchell were the Hawks' two leading ball-winners in the 24-point loss to Adelaide on Saturday, 58 of their combined 74 disposals were handballs. O'Meara had six kicks and 30 handballs while Mitchell's ratio was also heavily weighted towards the latter stat (10 and 28).
Most of Mitchell's disposals have been via hand over his six-season career to date, but Walls was more concerned about O'Meara's ratio, as the strongly built midfielder averaged more kicks than handballs in his two full seasons at the Suns.
Walls described O'Meara's numbers at the MCG on Saturday as "completely out of whack".
"The worrying sign for me was the two young fellas that they've brought in ... they just overdid the handball," Walls told Fox Sports News' AFL Tonight.
"O'Meara is the worry to me, because in his first couple of seasons at the Gold Coast, he was very much a kicking player. Now he's a player who handballs a lot."
Interestingly, O'Meara is ranked No.1 in the competition for total clangers after the first two rounds of the home and away season.
"(The over-handballing) is a sign to me that he doesn't have the confidence to break away - like a (Patrick) Dangerfield does. He gets the ball, he props and he gets the handball out," Walls said.
"They might've picked up a 23-year-old, but he could have a 29, 30-year-old body."
Walls compared the impact of O'Meara and Mitchell to Geelong's star midfield pairing of Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood and their output against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
While the Hawks duo had 11 more disposals, Dangerfield and Selwood had 11 more kicks, which was a big reason why the Cats pair clearly won the metres gained count (1061m-460m).
"It means they (Dangerfield and Selwood) impact the results of games a lot more than the players who handball backwards or sidewards," Walls said.
Walls wouldn't rule the Hawks out of premiership contention yet, but said Alastair Clarkson's men "looked slow" as the Crows gained the ascendancy of the match over the final three quarters.
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