NEW Bacchus Marsh coach Doug Hawkins has promised to bring a touch of Mick Malthouse and Terry Wheeler to the job of guiding the young Cobras in the Ballarat Football League next season.
The former Footscray great, who becomes a senior coach for the first time at Bacchus Marsh, said he had some outstanding coaches when he was a young AFL player, and would use that experience to guide Bacchus Marsh towards its first finals campaign in a decade.
Hawkins said the Cobras would retain most of their senior players from this year and would have 15 players graduate from the under-18.5 side that was beaten in the grand final.
He said building fitness and working on the defensive side of the game would be among his priorities when pre-season training begins at Maddingley Park on Monday.
“I want Bacchus Marsh to be like clubs like North, Redan and Sunbury because they are so good at what they do,” Hawkins said yesterday.
“To be like that, and maybe one or two other Ballarat sides, requires a lot of hard work.
“Mick Malthouse was great because he got a lot out of his players and I’ve taken a lot out of him, and Terry Wheeler as well. Mick would challenge and drive you, while Terry was the tactician.
“The game style I’m bringing is all about moving the footy quickly, with a bit of natural flair but being really competitive when we haven’t got the footy.
“It means we need to be fitter than ever before and that means we need to train more than just two nights a week.
“It mightn’t be as a group but I’d like the players to do something on other nights like going for a run or to the gym.”
Hawkins said he has wanted to coach since retiring from playing but couldn’t due to media commitments.
He coached Bacchus Marsh’s under-16.5 team to a premiership in 2011 but, following the death of player Nathan Prince during that season, stepped away for a year.
The 52-year-old said Bacchus Marsh had grown as a club during his time there.
“I had to take the year off after Nathan Prince’s death,” he said.
“It was really hard to recharge the batteries after that. Nathan was like a second son to me.
“The club has come a long way and is much more professional. Mick Phyland has been terrific in recruitment and with the football department and (former Bacchus Marsh coach) Dave Callander did a really good job too. When you’ve got a young list like we have, it’s pretty exciting.
“The bonus is I have coached some of these boys. I know them and they know me.”
Supporting Hawkins on field is Western Jets assistant coach Adam Skrobalak, who returns to his former club as a player when not required to coach in the TAC Cup.
Hawkins’ appointment will also see him go head-to-head with friend and former Footscray teammate Rod MacPherson, who coaches cross town rival Darley.
“He was my best mate at Footscray and we’re still best mates. But Rocket’s now the enemy,” Hawkins joked.