After successive wins against finals contenders Collingwood and the Western Bulldogs, Hawthorn are showing promising signs on the field as the rebuild under Sam Mitchell gathers steam. Off the field, there may continue to be change afoot as the coaching merry-go-round gets into full swing.

Long-touted as a future coach, Mitchell has begun to show that the hype was justified, while the recognition continues to extend to his assistants, with forwards coach Chris Newman now being linked to the Richmond vacancy.

As a former captain at Richmond who played 268 games for the Tigers, Newman's links to the club remain strong and his name has been mentioned frequently in speculation about the vacant position at Punt Road following Damien Hardwick's sudden departure.

Newman has been coaching at Hawthorn since his retirement in 2015, starting as a development coach for Box Hill, before taking the senior role a year later. After a rocky start, he guided Box Hill to a VFL premiership and was elevated to a backline coach at Hawthorn.

His impressive rise through the ranks has seen him work under both Mitchell and Alastair Clarkson, which would only serve to boost his appeal to the Tigers given their success with Hardwick.

Speaking to SEN on Friday, when talk turned to Newman, Mitchell was forthright when asked if he was nervous about losing him to the vacant senior coaching job at Punt Road.

"A little bit actually!" he laughed.

"My media boss sends me articles I should read before interviews. I told 'Newy' yesterday; "If I have to read one more article about you and Richmond mate, I already know that you barrack for Richmond" and he still calls all the boys by their nicknames and all those things.. so he gets plenty of ribbing from our coaches in here.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 19: Box Hill Coach Chris Newman speaks to the media during a VFL and VFLW Grand Final press conference at Ikon Park on September 19, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Darrian Traynor/AFL Media/Getty Images)

"But he's a fantastic coach and he's a really good friend of mine, so I've spoken to him about it and it's friend first, coach second, so if I can help him in his endeavours to get a senior coaches job then my friendship with him will override the loyalty for him to do his job for me of course."

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When pressed further on if he thinks they will lose Newman, Mitchell was frank.

"I actually have no idea, I have less idea than you guys in there about what process they are up to and what they're looking for," he said.

Newman isn't the only name linked with the Tigers. Aside from current caretaker coach Andrew McQualter, who has done his case no harm, Essendon assistant Daniel Giansiracusa, Melbourne assistant Adem Yze and Gold Coast caretaker Steven King are all thought to be in the mix.

The Tigers have made it known that they would prefer a coach with senior experience, which McQualter, King and Giansiracusa all possess, however that doesn't necessarily rule out Yze.

As one of the most coveted jobs in the AFL, the senior coach role at Richmond has seen a host of names linked and then ruled out, among them Port Adelaide assistant Josh Carr.

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While the Tigers continue to evaluate their candidates, things are looking bright for the Hawks. Following a pre-season of doom and gloom predictions, the Hawks have shown they are on the right track in the back half of season 2023.

Adem Yze during Melbourne's open training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne in 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes/Zero Digital Sports)

Wins against Brisbane, St Kilda, Collingwood and the Bulldogs, who are all in finals contention, have shown they can match it with anyone, something Mitchell is pleased with. Though for him, season 2023 has been about "building depth."

While noting he was happy to get significant games into the likes of Josh Ward, Will Day and Jai Newcombe, Mitchell mentioned that at the start of the season they "had nine players with less than twenty games [experience] and that was too much."

"Now we have four or five players with less than twenty games and that seems to be a bit better mix to be competitive," he said.

The Hawks will be hoping to close out the season with another win or two to build momentum into the draft and a much more promising-looking season in 2024.