Gunston talks up the Hawks' chances
IT'S a new season for Hawthorn, but with some old bodies back on deck, the powerhouse AFL club has set the same old aim.
Make the top four.
The Hawks are one of the most challenging sides to read ahead of the 2018 season, which begins for them with a Saturday night clash with Collingwood.
Was last year's 12th place finish an injury-enforced aberration?
If so, will the return of premiership winners Cyril Rioli, James Frawley, Paul Puopolo and Ben Stratton catapult Hawthorn to the top echelons of the ladder?
Or are the Hawks in the middle of a rebuild that will prepare next-gen guns James Sicily, Jaeger O'Meara and Ryan Burton for the club's next shot at glory?
Jack Gunston believes the former.
The 26-year-old confirmed Alastair Clarkson's age-old goal of winning the finals double chance was the club's goal ahead of round one.
"That's the aim. It's been the aim every year,” he said.
"We've got strong belief in this group. We've got a fit list and a healthy list so there's no reason we can't be up there.”
When the Hawks line up at the MCG, Gunston will play his 150th senior match.
And he'll do so in the familiar surroundings of the forward line.
The former Adelaide spearhead was sent to defence as part of Clarkson's overhaul of the team in 2017, adapting to poor form and injuries.
"I've done all the pre-season up forward and it's good to be back there and back playing with those guys up there. They're an exciting bunch the mosquito fleet,” he said.
Gunston was unsure whether Rioli would be lining up in round one, saying he'd "trained really strongly the last few weeks and he looks good”.
"Cyril looks great out there and he looks like he's pretty much ready to play, but it's whether he feels right in his body or the medical staff thinks he's right to go,” he said.