Hawks teammate hits back at O'Meara criticism
AFL: Having seen him from close quarters, Hawthorn onballer Will Langford can't understand the criticism being levelled at new teammate Jaeger O'Meara.
Despite collecting a career-best 36 disposals in the round-two loss to Adelaide, the former Gold Coast Sun has had the blowtorch put on him.
Carlton great Robert Walls was particularly critical, telling Fox Footy the Hawks had picked up a 23-year-old with a 29-year-old's body.
Having dished out 30 handballs against the Crows, Walls believed O'Meara had lost confidence in his kicking due to the debilitating knee injuries that sidelined him for two full seasons.
"The people who are knocking him probably aren't thinking so level-headedly," Langford said ahead of the Hawks' clash with the Suns on Sunday.
"It's something that's rather remarkable to be able to slot straight into a new team after two years out of the game and find that much of the footy. It really shows how good a footballer he is.
"He wasn't meant to be playing for another month-and-a-half."
Langford said both O'Meara and former Swan and fellow ball magnet Tom Mitchell had fitted into the club "seamlessly".
It was now just a matter of getting that "synergy" and "understanding" between what is now a new-look midfield minus Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis.
"It's a credit to their character, the sort of blokes that they are, that they already have really strong bonds at the footy club," Langford said.
"They're not just good footballers but really good leaders, and respected for that. They earned the trust of all the players really quickly."
Langford said the Hawks were focusing on the positives of their 0-2 start to a season in which there has been many personnel changes.
Ty Vickery (Richmond) and Ricky Henderson (Adelaide) were also among the new arrivals, Teia Miles and Ryan Burton are youngsters getting games, while champion forward and new captain Jarryd Roughead has returned.
"There's obviously some things we want to improve on, but the upside is enormous," Langford said.
"We know we can compete and play some really good footy. It's just about doing that more consistently.
"That's something a team with a few fresh faces and blokes who haven't played too much footy together might say, but that's okay, we'll deal with that."
Langford himself is back rediscovering the form of his breakout 2014 season, when he starred in the grand final win over Sydney.
Knee and calf injuries hampered his 2015 before he suffered a punctured lung in 2016, restricting him to just 13 games in each season.
He has gathered 27 and 28 touches to sit second behind Mitchell (75) and O'Meara (59) as the Hawks' leading disposal winners in 2017.
"I'm just trying to string some good footy together," he said.
Langford's focus, however, is on the Hawks getting back on the winners' list at Carrara on Sunday night.
"We're going to come with a pretty clear focus about what we want to do," he said.