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Hawks coach praises Jarman Impey's influence, clarifies Wingard's return date after tight win against Dogs

Jarred Cross -

Hawthorn coach Sam Mitchell has praised unsung defender Jarman Impey as the ultimate team player after the Hawks bounced back from a 12-goal loss to post their second win for the season on Sunday afternoon.

Mitchell's side responded after allowing the Bulldogs to get the jump on the scoreboard early, and grind out a seven-point victory 14.14 (98) - 14.7 (91) at Marvel Stadium.

Impey, who had averaged 17 touches from halfback to start the year, collected a team-high 27 disposals (23 kicks) directing his side up the ground.

Speaking post-match, Mitchell was pleased to see the 28-year-old produce on his "offensive threat" capabilities, and get deserved rewards reflecting his status among the playing group.

"Jarman has been amazingly consistent. I don't think anyone cares more about their teammates, about how they play...the influence they can have on others," he said.

"I think if you speak to any of our players about the guys they love playing footy with, or that help them play better, Jarman will be close to the first name that they say."

Mitchell hailed Impey as one of the Hawks' most reliable players, and unnoticed efforts down back in a team seeing plenty of the ball in their own back half in recent seasons.

He labelled Impey as one of his players who gives "unconditional effort" and will "leave everything out there" each week.

"I think the other players all walk taller for those guys being around them. I think Jarman, sometimes he plays fantastically well without the offensive threat, and tonight he got the offensive threat. But he plays in a way that we love the way he goes about it," Mitchell said.

"We love his defensive pressure...his work ethic and work rate to do the little things that we value is enormous and he really leads our backline.

"I think there's bigger names than him behind the ball...but when you see Jarman I'm doing what he does behind the ball, I think he's one of those players that other coaches would like watching."

Hawthorn face their next test to assess their credentials against an up-and-down St Kilda in round nine.

When the two sides last met in July 2023, Impey collected a season second-best 31 touches with 501 metres gained in the 29-point loss.

It also saw Saints rebounder Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera produce among the best performances of his young career with 33 touches and a goal.

Wanganeen-Milera has been a shining light in St Kilda's start to the season, presenting as the future of the club and playing a starring role in their dominant win over North on Saturday.

The 21-year-old was impressive alongside teammates Bradley Hill and fellow rising talent Marcus Windhager, who had 25 touches, eight tackles and six clearances against the Roos.

The injury-plagued Hawk kicked two and collected 22 touches in the July loss.

On Sunday, Mitchell commented on the 30-year-old's expected senior return date after his second VFL appearance at the weekend.

"I actually brought up Wingard with the medical team this week when we had a couple of guys go out...they said no...he's still a couple of weeks away," Mitchell said on Sunday.

"The medical team said he's not really available for AFL selection for another couple of weeks but he got through the game today I believe and was able to have an influence at Box Hill. So he's been fantastic around the group.

"I think everyone loves seeing seeing Chad back back up and about him out there playing."

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