Box Hill Coach Max Bailey says the side is ready for the challenge of a premiership defence in 2019.
The Hawks will open their season against the Casey Demons at Box Hill City Oval this Sunday in what promises to be a fiery grand final re-match.
Heading into his first season as senior coach, Bailey said the Hawks had the perfect preparation this pre-season with four practice matches, including one against their Round 1 combatants.
“It’s worked out well because we got to have a look at them and how they play,” Bailey said.
“Obviously they play a lot like Melbourne, so we have some idea and, based off our success against them last year, hopefully that can flow into this year as well.
“But each season the VFL changes quite dramatically so both us and them are going to be fairly different to last season.”
Part of that change for the Hawks this year can be seen in their leadership group with a new-look five-man team set to lead the side into 2019.
Damian Mascitti, Luke Meadows, Liam Mackie and Nathan Mullenger-McHugh will support captain Andrew Moore in his second season at the helm.
“Andrew Moore is still our skipper so we’re really fortunate to have a player of his calibre playing with us.
“Damian Mascitti has come across from Port Melbourne and he has played a lot of VFL footy and is very well experienced across the wing and half-back.
“Luke Meadows is an inside mid who has come across from the WAFL and he will complement a lot of our mids with his inside stuff.
“Nathan Mullenger-McHugh spent two years on the Bulldogs list and is a forward, so he will provide us with a strong target up forward.”
“Liam Mackie was with us last season and has spent a year on Collingwood’s list, and now, being seen as a leader, we can expect a good step forward from him this year.”
Box Hill will kick off its 2019 campaign against the Casey Demons at 11.40am this Sunday at Box Hill City Oval.