Hawks to sweat off the Christmas pud

BASKETBALL 

The Wollongong Hawks will be sweating out the Christmas turkey and pudding when they return to training this morning.

Coach Gordie McLeod gave his players a five-day leave pass over the Christmas period and will be keen to see if anyone over-indulged at the lunch table.

"Gordie will have us running to snap us out of the Christmas mindset," forward Dan Jackson said.

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"It's important to unwind physically and mentally, and I've certainly enjoyed myself and been merry, but now it's time to get back to work."

The third-placed Hawks (8-4) host Melbourne on New Year's Eve - their first game in 16 days.

"I'm sure all of our rust will be run out of us," Jackson said.

"We've had five days off, so I dare say it'll be a massive session. The boys will be coming in chomping at the bit to get back on the court."

The Hawks went into the festive season with three players on the injured list.

While guard Tyson Demos (knee) is almost certain to make his comeback against the Tigers, starting centre Larry Davidson (broken rib) remains a week-to-week proposition and forward Tim Coenraad (foot) is still about two or three weeks away.

Jackson said the Hawks would enter the second half of the season with a continued emphasis on hard work.

"We all had individual meetings with Gordie the week before Christmas, and if we knew at the start of the year that we'd be 8-4 more than a third of the way through the season, we'd take that every time," the former Australian under 19 rep said.

"We're pretty happy with how we've been going, especially considering we haven't played with a healthy team all year.

"We've put ourselves in a great position going forward, but there's a lot of work to be done. We've got those couple of games buffer on some teams, but they're still trying to make improvements to bridge that gap. Townsville have added two guys and Adelaide's got a new import.

"We have to make sure we're working hard every day, trying to get better. We need to stay on our toes to keep our distance from teams below us."

The Hawks know they can't afford to drop their guard against the inconsistent Tigers (3-8).

"Their form has been up and down. They've been either really good or ordinary," Jackson said.

"We need to make sure we come in and do a job on them early. That way they might start doubting themselves again, which is only natural when your record's not so great."

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