Fresh faces and a fresh attitude down at Westies after a disappointing end to their 2017 season.
After sprinting out of the blocks with six wins in the first six games, it all turned sour for the Hawks – losing focus and only managing to scrape by with another two wins for the rest of the year.
A new coach in Corey McKenzie positions fans at Chinnery with a bit more to cheer about this year.
With a long list of experience in junior grades and development coaching with the Adelaide Football Club, McKenzie will provide the Hawk’s young list with guidance at a time of transition for the club.
“We’ve lost a lot of experience, but what that does is open the door for others to come through,” McKenzie said.
“I looked at our list from the start when I first applied for the job and we’ve got about 16, 21 to 24-year-olds, which is a really good age bracket to have and is a really good age bracket to build upon.”
With recruiting not at the forefront for McKenzie and his assistant coach Robert Laube, they have a strong focus on giving their junior players the confidence to take the next step in their playing careers.
Toby Blinman and Charlie Ryan have charged through the junior ranks to impress their new coach early.
Still eligible for Under 18’s, Ryan has emerged as a leader in the group alongside his senior captains Michael Curley and Rhys Dadleh who take on the challenge of leading the team for a third straight year.
“We didn’t want to come in and make too many changes and turn everything over,” McKenzie explained.
“Those guys have been there and they are going to be our allies, they are going to help grow this group too.”
Conceding this might be a building year for the West Augusta Football Club, Curley is keen to see how his young side will fair in the 2018 season.
One thing he won’t accept after last year is complacency.
“I think we got ahead of ourselves and the wheels started to fall off, people got a bit slack at training,” Curley said.
“We’ve really tried to drill in that you can’t be complacent. If you get a good start then you’ve just got to keep on going – foot on the throat sort of stuff.”
Facing reigning premiers South Augusta in round one, the Hawks will be tested early.
Height a major challenge for purple outfit, McKenzie hopes to show off a running game and give the back-to-back Bulldog’s a run for their money.
“If you put a young side out there, give them confidence and let them play their footy then you just don’t know what can happen,” he said.
“Preseason is long and I just can’t wait for them to cross that white line.”
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