Young Hawks ready to spread their wings under new coach
THE Gatton Hawks U18 side was preparing for another flying start to the rugby league season when COVID-19 impacted community sports.
Now, the new coach is eager to get his new-look team back on the field and training, hoping to build on last season's grand-final success.
The young Hawks last year fell tragically short of claiming their first grand final win in 32 years, going down to the Dalby Diehards 32-12.
With just three members of last year's team still on the roster, new coach Rob Bichel knew he was in for a tough season but had been heartened by the young side's performance in training before the season stalled.
"There's plenty of new blood in the team - it will just be (down to) how we get it to gel together," Bichel said.
"They had a few training sessions prior to COVID shutting things down and all the boys are really excited about how much they were learning."
Some of the Hawks' U16 players have made to move to the U18 side, along with three players from the Western Mustangs representative side.
Bichel has also brought in Darron Skinner-Martin as assistant coach and said his work with the side had already impressed both Bichel and the team.
"He's one of the best managers of young men that I've seen - ever," he said.
"The way the boys engage at training when they're learning so much new stuff - I am excited about that.
"To see them enthused at training at the fact that they were learning things, especially from Darron, was really exciting for me."
But the coach is well aware of the tough job he faces, with a reduced competition likely to kick off in June, set to be a tough test for the Hawks.
"We've got a long road ahead of us - to only have retained three players out of last year's side is a major obstacle," he said.
"The under 16 competition in Toowoomba last year was a really strong competition."
But he said he wouldn't write of his side's chances of making the finals yet, with the team yet to play a game.