MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 16: Alastair Clarkson, Senior Coach of the Hawks chats with Connor Downie during a Hawthorn Hawks AFL training session at Waverley Park on December 16, 2020 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd has questioned Hawthorn's call to hand rookie midfielder Connor Downie the medical substitute role in his first game.

Under the AFL's latest rule change, a 23rd player will be named as a sub to replace one injured player during the match, with the medical substitute still getting a game to their career tally even if they aren't brought into the match.

That was the case for Downie on Saturday night, with Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson not requiring the 18-year-old in his side's one-point win over the Bombers.

The game will stand as the Eastern Ranges product's first ever in the league, despite the fact zero minutes were registered on the ground.

Speaking on The Sunday Footy Show, Lloyd believes the Hawks made a poor call in selecting the first-gamer as their medical substitute.

"I wouldn't play a first gamer until he's ready to play in the 22, not to be the sub,” he said.

“I just think that you can recount your first game and the joy of ringing your parents, your first handball, your first touch, you get 20 tickets for your friends and family.

“Connor Downie’s done all that, but he’ll never be able to say he played a second of it.

“I’m saying don’t play him at all, Connor Downie has starred throughout the pre-season his time will come.

“I wouldn’t play a first-gamer in that situation because that’s what he’ll remember it for.”

Downie was drafted to the Hawks via last year's draft with the 35th overall selection of the night.

The promising teenager was one of three debutants for the Hawks in Round 1, with Tyler Brockman and Jacob Koschitzke also named in Hawthorn's 39-point second-half comeback.

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