Woodend-Hesket has hit the track hard as it tries to bridge the gap with the top sides in the Riddell District Football League.

Under new coach Ben Tankard, the Hawks have been averaging good numbers on the track, with plenty of excitement and motivation in the group.

Tankard, who has coached against the Hawks the last two seasons, said he had been pleasantly surprised with what he had seen so far.

“The training and work ethic has been really strong,” he said. “Tom Carland set the club up where it needs to be and I’m lucky to step into the role now.

“We’ve had really good numbers and great commitment. We’re getting 40-plus players each night.

“It has kept me motivated and everyone couldn’t wait to get back.”

Having watched the Hawks, Tankard had a bit of an idea where the side needed to improve to take the next step

. He said it wouldn’t be a quick fix, but there were two key areas they needed to address if they were to push for a finals spot.

First is consistency, with Tankard saying the side would previously show signs for a couple of quarters, but not the whole game.

The other is depth.

Woodend-Hesket has been one of the busier clubs in the competition and have recruited 12 players.

Tankard said the key area which they needed some extra experience was in the midfield and feel like they have filled those roles.

Already one area where they struggled at times, the Hawks lost their best player Daniel Toman, who has joined the Sunbury Lions.

Wayne Patak, who is a strong bodied midfielder, comes across from Spotswood where he finished fourth in the league best and fairest last year.

Aaron French, who has played in two premierships in the Tasmanian State League, comes to the Hawks having most recently played with East Malvern. A trio of Taylors Lakes players have also come across.

James Vistarini, an Essendon District Football League division 1 best and fairest winner, Rory Alexander and Nick Franzi are expected to provide plenty.

Tankard, who spent time at Taylors Lakes as an assistant coach, said once they got one, it led to the pieces falling into place.

“My brother coached Taylors Lakes for five years,” he said.

“James and I played cricket together and have always been close friends. It opened the doors to a few others coming and there’s the French connection there was well.”

Former Hawks Blake Laverie and Charlie Mathieson have returned to the club after a couple of years away and will be part of the young brigade coming through.

Tankard said he expected to field a young side this season.

“We’ve put together a fairly strong side,” he said.

“We targeted midfielders and filled those spots pretty well and then filled in the edges.

“We’ve got our under-19 team from last  season that made the grand final and the majority of them are going up.

“There’s been a few rising stars playing in the reserves as well. I want to have 28, 29 or even 30 capable senior players to choose from each week.”

Woodend-Hesket kicks off its season on Anzac Day against Lancefield.