First-year Apollo Bay coach Brian Brown will turn his focus to promoting juniors following a mass exodus of senior players during the off-season.
The club is facing a long-term rebuilding phase after losing 2010 recruits Liam Dunne, Joel Page, Chris Bradshaw, Jo Knox and star forward Cameron Tate.
And while many would fear a dramatic drop from Apollo Bay’s seventh-place finish last season, Brown has kept his cool with recruits in the pipeline.
“It’s still early days yet, we had half a dozen trainings before Christmas and it’s always difficult to get guys to train before that,” he said.
Losing athletic forward Tate will be the second biggest blow for the Hawks following the departure of midfielder Tyson Holt to Colac Tigers.
Brown said the club would sorely miss the Melbourne-based Tate, who booted 58 goals in 2010.
Midfielder Dunne, who featured in the Hawks’ best players eight times last season, will return to Melbourne, while fellow recruits Bradshaw, seven times in best, and Page, five times, have headed back to Geelong.
Even homegrown Hawk Jo Knox will depart the coastal club, most liekly returning to working in mines in Western Australia.
But Brown still has high hopes for the club’s work-based recruiting plan, that offers building apprenticeships to lure players to the club, which is still in its early stages.
The club will return to pre-season on Thursday, with star midfielder Jeremy Ellis and key position player Karl McSparron showing the most potential of the group so far.