Pre-season preparations have moved into overdrive for the Wollongong Hawks.
The Hawks flew to North Queensland yesterday for trials with the Cairns Taipans tonight and tomorrow night.
Import Rotnei Clarke is expected to make his debut in Wollongong colours in addition to newly signed back-up centre Shane Harris-Tunks.
Tomorrow’s clash will double as the opening round of the NBL pre-season Blitz tournament.
‘‘We’re looking forward to it. It’ll be good for the guys to get out and play and get off the practice court,’’ Wollongong coach Gordie McLeod said.
‘‘We’ve been working hard getting Rotnei and Shane up to speed with what’s going on and they’re doing a good job. They’re getting to know their teammates and getting to know the system, but it’s a lot different when you go out and play a game.’’
Hawks guard Rhys Martin is making good progress after major knee surgery in January but didn’t travel to Cairns.
Martin remains on track to start in his team’s season opener against titleholders New Zealand Breakers on October 10.
Tyson Demos has fully recovered from a knee injury and will play against the Taipans, while development squad guards Dom Cooks and Zac Delaney made the trip.
Rounding out the Hawks line-up are regulars Tim Coenraad, Oscar Forman, Larry Davidson and Dave Gruber.
‘‘We’ve had a little time together, albeit fairly disrupted time, and now we need to get out and play a bit,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘It’s going to be a really tough weekend for us, but we’ll know where we’re at.’’
Wollongong have eight players under contract for the 2013-14 season and are searching for two more to fill their 10-man roster.
‘‘We’ve still got our other import spot to fill,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘We’ve identified the type of guy we’re looking for. It’ll be a combo player, a three-two, and it’s the usual situation for us in that we’re working within a certain budget and trying to find the player we think is going to complement our group.’’
If the Hawks don’t sign a second import before the season tips off, McLeod may start Coenraad in the three-spot or shift Forman to the three-spot and make Gruber the starting four-man.
‘‘It’s been a frustrating process, as it often is,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘We haven’t been able to find the type of guy we’re looking for. If we can’t find that guy we might go back and look at more two-guards.
‘‘When we get that situation sorted, it’ll then allow us to see what Australian guy we find for that last spot.
‘‘We’ve got some local guys and there’s some guys we’ve looked at who came in from out of town,’’ McLeod said.
‘‘The challenge is to get footage and talk to people.
‘‘Sometimes, by the time you’ve made your evaluation, the guys you’re interested in have already signed somewhere else.
‘‘We’ve got some guys in mind and we’ll keep looking at that ...’’ he said.