WANGARATTA Rovers star Sam Carpenter is confident his hamstring woes are behind him and believes the Hawks are still in premiership contention.
Despite a raft of off-season departures, Carpenter said the Hawks had done enough to cover their losses and weren’t planning on dropping out of the top five this year.
“We want to improve on last year,” he said.
“If you’re not thinking that way, then you get left behind pretty quickly in this competition.
“Last year we won a final, so hopefully this year we can break into the top three.
“It will be tough, obviously.”
Although the club has lost the likes of Karl Norman, Sam Caruso, Toby Ryan and Joel Coombes, Carpenter said the arrival of former AFL players Daniel Archer, Jarrad Boumann and James Mulligan had given the Hawks reason for optimism.
They were bundled out of last year’s finals series in convincing fashion by Lavington.
“We overused the footy far too much last year but with these big blokes arriving, we’ll be a lot more direct,” he said.
“Hopefully that means we can kick a few more goals.”
Carpenter said the Hawks were also expecting improvement out of their talented young brigade.
“Alex Marklew, Dylan Wilson and Cody Schutt are a couple of good young kids who are already quality players,” he said.
“We think they’ll take that next step this year.”
The midfield ace had his first season with the Hawks ruined by injury last year but said he hadn’t missed a beat over the pre-season.
“I’m feeling fit,” Carpenter said.
“The pre-season has been going smoothly but I suppose we’re entering that danger period now.
“Once you start going from training into playing games, that’s usually when things go wrong.
“Touchwood that doesn’t happen.
“Hopefully I’m a bit wiser now and if the body feels a bit sore, I’ll pull back.”
Carpenter, who injured his hamstring in last year’s season opener against Wodonga Raiders, didn’t play his first full game until after the halfway point of last season.