New East Wagga-Kooringal coach Matt Hard keen to get started with the Hawks

STAYING ON: East Wagga-Kooringal have secured their playing list for next season.
STAYING ON: East Wagga-Kooringal have secured their playing list for next season.

NEW East Wagga-Kooringal coach Matt Hard is not going to limit what can be achieved at the Hawks.

Hard was unveiled as EWK’s new senior coach on Monday, replacing Gavin McMahon, who spent four seasons in charge.

Hard arrives as one of the most respected coaches in the region, having coached Coolamon and Northern Jets to premierships, as well as a stint in charge of the Riverina League representative team.

Hard believes a fresh start at EWK will reinvigorate him as a coach but the experienced mentor was not prepared to promise anything upon his arrival to Gumly Oval.

“I’m not going to put a lid on what I want us to achieve,” Hard said.

“I’ve got to come out here and meet the players, get familiar with the players and the club, the standard of footy, the strengths and weaknesses and that sort of stuff so I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to win a premiership.

“We’re going to start from scratch, we’ll start from zero and hopefully win enough games to qualify for finals and we’ll take it from there.

“I’m not going to come here and say we’re going to win a premiership, or the aim is to solely win a premiership, my aim is to hopefully improve the players and continue the work that’s been done previously and get the club moving forward.”

The Hawks have retained the current playing group, including assistant coach Chris Gordon, captain Ben Absolum and accomplished ruckman Nick Hull.

Hard now plans to sit down with the Hawks and work out what is needed on the recruiting front.

“I’ve only agreed recently, from what I understand the whole playing group’s agreed to go on again, which is fantastic,” he said.

“We’ll sit down and have a meeting this week at some stage and work out a plan going forward, on what we need and how we go about that process. It’s still early in the piece.”

Hard did not watch any of the Hawks this year, but has watched a few replays. He likes what he has to work with.

“They obviously had a big turnover of players from their premiership year to last year, played 38 or so players, hit finals and hit it full of running so there’s obviously a lot of talent and potential there,” he said.

“We’ve got to look at, from a recruiting perspective, what we think will help us going forward and continue to challenge the players to get the best out of themselves.”

The Hawks, as a club, are in a good position.

They have appointed Chris Jackson and Ben Perkins as reserve grade coaches, replacing three-time premiership coach Luke Adams.

Both played seniors this year and EWK president Steve Absolum is happy to have such experience in that role.

“They’ve both coached the senior club at different stages,” Absolum said.

Craig Depiazza will retain the under 17 coaching role, in what Absolum predicts will be a much stronger team in 2018.

“We’ve got good kids coming through, and he’s good with the young blokes,” Absolum said.

“They should be considerably stronger.”