Paul Puopolo

Paul Puopolo (born 2 December 1987) is an Australian rules footballer who plays for the Hawthorn Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL). A man small in stature, he is known to jump into packs and take marks against much taller opponents. He is a 3-time premiership player having played in Hawthorn's back-to-back-to-back Grand Final triumphs in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Paul Puopolo
Puopolo playing for Hawthorn in April 2017
Personal information
Nickname(s) Pug, Poppy.
Date of birth (1987-12-02) 2 December 1987
Original team(s) Hope Valley / Norwood
Draft No. 66, 2010 national draft
Debut Round 7, 2011, Hawthorn
vs. Port Adelaide, at AAMI Stadium
Height 173 cm (5 ft 8 in)
Weight 78 kg (172 lb)
Position(s) Forward[1]
Club information
Current club Hawthorn
Number 28
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
2011 Hawthorn 190 (181)
1 Playing statistics correct to the end of 2019.
Career highlights
Sources: AFL Tables,


Puopolo made his debut for Norwood in 2007 and started out as a small forward/midfielder. Puopolo, who hails from Hope Valley, South Australia quickly built a reputation as the South Australian National Football League's best lockdown small defender. He was converted into a defender by former Norwood coach Trevor Hill in 2008. Despite his lack of height, he has always had the strength and speed to counter his rivals.[2] In 2008 he was a SANFL Coca-Cola Star Search Award Nominee.[3] By the time he got drafted by Hawthorn at the end of 2010 he had played 68 senior games and kicked 13 goals for the Redlegs.[4]

Hawthorn (2011–present)

Puopolo made his debut for the Hawks in Round 7 of the 2011 AFL season against Port Adelaide.[5][6] He is the AFL's tenth shortest player, standing at 173 cm.[7] In his debut game, Puopolo had a reasonable performance, having nine kicks, six handballs and laying two tackles.[8] He showed signs of being a tough-no-nonsense player. He has since flourished, playing initially in the Hawks' back pocket position and later as a defensive forward.

After making his debut in Round 7, Puopolo went on to play Hawthorn's remaining 19 games of the 2011 season, including three finals. His goal late in the Round 24 final quarter against Gold Coast sealed the match, along with his tackle soon after which thwarted a forward 50 entry - the win secured Hawthorn a top 4 ladder position for the finals ahead. Puopolo kicked 3 goals in the Semi-Final against Sydney, and 1 goal against Collingwood in the Preliminary Final. He finished his debut season with 20 games and 8 goals, gaining much experience in a brilliant first season. He was awarded Hawthorn's Best First Year Player Award.

He has carved a niche as a pressure forward who makes the most of his opportunities and enjoys a chase down tackle as much as a snapped goal.[9]

In the 2012 AFL season Puopolo played in 21 out of 25 games and kicked 24 goals. He played in Hawthorn's loss to Sydney in the 2012 AFL Grand Final at the M.C.G., laying 7 effective tackles.

In the 2013 AFL season Puopolo played in 22 out of 25 games and kicked 15 goals. Puopolo became a Premiership player when Hawthorn defeated Fremantle in the 2013 AFL Grand Final at the M.C.G. in front of 100,007 people. In a typically ferocious performance he laid 6 effective tackles, and to seal the game halfway through the final quarter, his bouncing shot at goal was pounced upon by Bradley Hill who ran into an open goal to give Hawthorn a 5-goal lead which Fremantle could not overcome.


Statistics are correct to the end of 2019[10]
 G  Goals  B  Behinds  K  Kicks  H  Handballs  D  Disposals  M  Marks  T  Tackles
Season Team No. Games G B K H D M T G B K H D M T
Totals Averages (per game)
2011 Hawthorn 28208517517234772680.
2012 Hawthorn 2821241411810522338641.
2013 Hawthorn 282215618219437648960.
2014 Hawthorn 28252216205191396691090.
2015 Hawthorn 28232912151155306471141.
2016 Hawthorn 28223415154155309481001.
2017 Hawthorn 2815194979218927871.
2018 Hawthorn 282020613011824842841.
2019 Hawthorn 2822101011614826441990.
Career 190181881328133026584328211.

Honours and achievements



  • Hawthorn best first year player (debut season): 2011


  1. Duxson, Nick. "No challenge too big for Paul Puopolo". Hawthorn FC. Hawthorn Football Club. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  2. Bednall, Jai (26 May 2010). "Tall order for Norwood's small defender". Leader Messenger. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  3. "SANFL News". South Australian National Football League. 11 June 2008. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  4. "NFC Annual Report: Season 2010" (PDF). Norwood Football Club. p. 8. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
  5. Diamond, Brett (2 May 2011). "Paul Puopolo set to make his debut". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  6. "Paul Puopolo will make his debut against Port". Herald Sun. 4 May 2011. Retrieved 6 May 2011.
  7. Macgugan, Mark (5 May 2011). "Paul Puopolo winning for tiny players". Australian Football League. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
  8. "Round 7: Port Adelaide vs Hawthorn Basic Stats". Australian Football League. Archived from the original on 20 May 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2011.
  10. Paul Puopolo's player profile at AFL Tables
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