Hawthorn set for massive play during AFL trade period as Jamarra Ugle-Hagan contract talks heat up

Hawthorn are getting set to make a massive splash during this year’s AFL trade period.

Something of a sleeping giant since their golden premiership era of the mid-2010s, the Hawks have been building a core group of young talent, and are ready to pull the trigger on one or more monster moves this off-season.

According to 7NEWS Melbourne’s Mitch Cleary, the club has more space in their salary cap than any club ever has.

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While he remains unsigned beyond this year, Western Bulldogs midfielder Bailey Smith will be arguably the biggest developing trade story throughout 2024.

A number of clubs are keeping tabs on the injured midfielder as he weighs up his future, with the Hawks among the clubs at the front of the queue, should he decide to leave the Kennel.

Collingwood star Josh Daicos and Geelong captain Patrick Dangerfield have both publicly said they’d love to have Smith at their respective clubs.

But the Hawks’ No.1 priority right now, according to Cleary, is finding a partner in crime for key forward Mitch Lewis.

With a dearth of available key forwards on the market right now, all eyes are zeroing in on one man.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan will be in-demand at the end of this year. Credit: Getty

“I want to talk about Jamarra Ugle-Hagan,” Cleary said on Tradies podcast.

“I still think he’s most likely to stay; the Bulldogs are in pole position. He’s said publicly and privately that he wants to stay, he’s a Bulldogs academy player.

“But there are mega offers coming for this guy because Ben King, Todd Marshall, Aaron Naughton (have all re-signed). There are no young key forwards on the market, available, outside of Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

“Hawthorn are coming hard in a big way. Right now, I think Hawthorn could have the most salary cap room open of any club in the history of the game.”

Cleary said the Hawks are so cashed up, they would have the space to lure Ugle-Hagan away from the Bulldogs’ grasp on a lucrative deal and still make another big-money play for a second superstar.

“With the CBA going up, and just where their list’s at in terms of the age and what they’ve paid for players previously … I’ve been told they’ve got room to go after two stars at $1.2m or more per season,” Cleary said.

“They went hard at Ben McKay last year and missed, and they want a key forward to partner Mitch Lewis. They went hard at Todd Marshall, they went hard at Ben King.

“I still think Jamarra stays and I want to put that on the record.”

Jack Macrae has been a champion for the Bulldogs. Credit: JOEL CARRETT/AAPIMAGE

Interestingly, Ugle-Hagan and Smith are both managed by Connors Management Group.

Cleary also said Bulldogs veteran Jack Macrae is “one to monitor” throughout the year.

“(Macrae has been) dropped from the leadership group — that, for me, is alarm bells,” he said.

“He was played at half forward last year. Let’s keep an eye on him.”

It’s going to be a massive year for the Bulldogs’ list management team, whose priorities also include hanging on to West Australian ruck star, Tim English.

English comes out of contract at the end of the season, and is set to attract offers of up to or above $1m per season.

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