APOLLO BAY football officials hope a host of key inclusions can help the Hawks return to finals in 2015.
The Hawks finished in the top three in 2013 but dropped back out of contention last year despite officials saying they had improved their list.
Apollo Bay has lost wingman Jeremy Ellis to Warrnambool club Allansford and Jesse Brown and Kyle Clemmens to Geelong district clubs, but new coach Dean Scheetz said the club’s recruits could boost the team back into the top five after a sixth-placed finish last year.
Arguably the biggest inclusion is veteran midfielder and 2012 Jack Mahoney Medallist Hamish Tamlin, who returns after more than a year out of the game with a knee injury.
Scheetz said club champion Tyson Holt was also in the mix despite suffering from knee injuries in recent years.
Highly-rated key-position player Jayden Fanning has crossed from GFL club Geelong West-St Peters, while young Alvie tall Josh Onderwater, Modewarre forward Josh Carroll and East Geelong midfielder Shamus Morrissy have also joined the club.
“We’re pretty happy with the list,” Scheetz said.
“Two years ago we finished third, we improved the list last year but didn’t perform,” he said.
“This year we’ve pretty much kept the list and strengthened our weaknesses – we weren’t the strongest running side last year but we’ve rectified that but we’ve still got big bodies around the ground.”
Scheetz has appointed former captain Martin White and forward Chris Canavan as his assistant coaches this season, taking the reins from Tyson Holt.
But the first-year leader said the Hawks would play a similar style of football in 2015.
“You can’t change things too much, it’ll be similar, we want to play direct and get the ball moving quick and just run,” he said.
“But we’ve got big targets across the ground, so we’ll be able to use them a bit more.”
Scheetz said the Hawks had attracted more than 20 players to their pre-season training sessions at Apollo Bay and Geelong, with a lot of young players putting in hard work.
He named forward Jay Diffey, defender John Tucker and midfielder Tristan Smith, who is listed with the Geelong Falcons’ under-16 team, as young players likely to get senior opportunities this year.