STEPPING into the Hawks’ general manager hot seat is something Mat Campbell described as a baptism of fire in the early stages.
Being put at the helm of a club with an uncertain future is nothing new for the club great without whom the club would not exist.
His appointment quickly restored the faith of the Hawks faithful, but he was quickly put on the back foot on the recruitment front when Nick Kay and Mitch Norton – young-guns who became Boomers on Rob Beveridge’s watch – upped and left for Perth.
It left Campbell and Beveridge with not just the annual struggle to find quality imports on a shoestring budget, but also scouring a bare free agency cupboard for the best Aussie talent.
The result was a new roster, eight new players to be precise, and a diverse mix of youth and experience all on board with Campbell’s mission to give the team back to the community.
“I’m absolutely rapt,” Campbell said.
“The energy they’re showing and the respect they’re showing for each other, the club and the community is phenomenal.
“They’re a pleasure to deal with whenever it comes to doing things from the team or club perspective and out there in the community.
“That’s a good sign that they’re in it for the right reasons.”
He’s also confident the new blue-collar team, like the Hawks sides he played on, is one Wollongong can get behind.
“You never know how it’s all going to come together until it comes around, and we’re only in preseason, but what I’m most pleased with is the guys’ work ethic,” Campbell said.
“Most importantly from my point of view, we’ve got a group of guys who are going to play hard.
“What they’ve shown in the preseason so far is that, whenever they step on the floor, they’re giving it their all. As a fan I think you can watch the game and appreciate that.
“There will be times we get beaten by a more talented team but you can definitely support a team that plays hard every night. That’s definitely what we’re getting.”