The Hawthorn Football Club is in damage control after reigning Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell suffered a suspected broken leg at training.
The 25-year-old Hawks superstar suffered the injury during a drill at Waverley Park on Friday morning as the club returned to training for their first session of the new year.
Players could be seen huddled out on the ground as they were told their star midfielder would undergo surgery over the weekend and most likely miss the entire 2019 AFL season.
A caller into radio station SEN said the player group fell silent as an ambulance drove onto the field where paramedics worked to immobilise his leg.
Rumours had circulated for more than an hour before the club confirmed on Twitter about 12.20pm that “unfortunately the rumours are true”.
Hawthorn general manager Graham Wright said in a statement the news was “incredibly disappointing” for both Mitchell and the club.
“For Tom to suffer an injury like this is incredibly disappointing for both him and our footy club,” Mr Wright said.
“He will undergo surgery over the weekend and as a result will most likely miss the 2019 season.
“However, Tom is a very resilient young man and we have no doubt that he will tackle his rehab with the same professionalism and diligence with which he approaches his training.”
Unfortunately the rumours are true. 😢
Tom Mitchell will undergo surgery after breaking his leg at training this morning.
— Hawthorn FC (@HawthornFC) January 11, 2019
Hawthorn legend Leigh Matthews took to Twitter to express his hope Mitchell makes a “quick and complete recovery”.
The club has called a meeting of officials on Saturday to discuss the impact of Mitchell’s injury.
The unpredictability of contact sport born out yet again with the severe injury to Tom Mitchell , hoping he makes a quick and complete recovery. Hawthorn’s season on the back foot already , further proof pre-season predictions are nothing more than guesswork.
— Leigh Matthews (@LeighRMatthews) January 11, 2019
Mitchell’s career took off in 2011 when he was recruited to the Sydney Football club, and after injuries in 2012, finally made his debut in 2013 in round 10 against Essendon.
At the end of the 2016, Mitchell was traded to Hawthorn and throughout the 2017 year accumulated more disposals than any other player in the competition.
He repeated his stellar record-breaking performance with the number of disposals in 2018, averaging 35 possessions a game, and was rewarded with the Brownlow Medal at season’s end with 28 votes.
The Hawks lost their two finals in 2018 to finish fourth, but, after missing the finals the year before, they had been bullish about their prospects this season.