New Henwood Park coach Ryan McKenzie is acutely aware that he is one of the only changes to his team as they prepare for their Pascoe Cup premiership defence.
He has taken over a team almost immediately after it laid a solid foundation beneath its feet and set the bar above many teams’ heads.
It could be perceived as a high pressure situation by many, but McKenzie says he is simply focused on maintaining the level of success the team experienced under Matt Menser’s regime.
That mission formally starts on Sunday, when Henwood begin their preseason at Rawlings Park.
“It’s all about making sure we keep doing what the guys have already been doing,” McKenzie said.
“We want to make sure the guys start this season the way they finished the last one.”
Helping Henwood hit the ground running will likely be several preseason games against Albury clubs in February, with team management currently finalising venues.
The Hawks will also have the FFA Cup to prepare for in early March, having cracked the preliminary rounds of the national competition by virtue of winning last season’s Pascoe Cup.
In the meantime, the Hawks are expecting about 50 players to hit the paddock on Sunday, with players from all men’s teams from first-grade right the way down through to under 18s invited to participate.
“By incorporating just about everyone that means you can run any drill you want and have full-size practice matches as well,” McKenzie said.
The emphasis for Henwood early on, as with many club’s preseasons, will be on fitness.
“That’s always the first step before the preseason matches,” McKenzie said.