I believe Dawson himself has said he needed to be fitter (despite carving up the NEAFL). Mitchell is an odd one. He was kept back for reasons I'm not aware of. Hewett seems to have benefitted. The other 4 were all as hard as nails from day 1.Hmmmm not sure I'd go that far, especially when we're not even sure yet how Stephens will be used (ie inside or outside or both, or maybe even HBF as he starts, who knows) I think if Stephens with his run and class can impact our team, and he's showcasing that in the NEAFL, then that would be enough for me to want to see him at senior level. I just doubt anything he produces at this stage of his career will be better than what Gray or Taylor, who are both around the 100-game mark, could produce. Ditto Gould with guys like O'Riordan and Melican.
I reckon it's an interesting debate though whether it's more beneficial to a player's development to have a NEAFL apprenticeship (Mitchell, Hewett, Dawson) or just slot straight in and play senior footy from basically day one (Heeney, Mills, Hayward, Papley)
Horses for courses.