Adam Mudra believes this week could be 'make or break' for Tallangatta league clubs.
Before Victoria went into lockdown, just one win separated the top-five with the season too close to call.
Chiltern and Yackandandah both sit 6-1 but Tallangatta, Kiewa-Sandy Creek and Barnawartha are all hot on their heels.
The league's 11 Victorian teams won't be able to train together until the current restrictions - in place until 11:59pm on Thursday - lift but Mudra, the Kiewa-Sandy Creek coach, knows the way they approach the interim period will be critical.
"This break can make or break clubs and I don't say that lightly," Mudra said. "I'm talking in the context of this season.
"It'll be really important to make sure we continue to drive those standards and put in that work because once the season clicks back into gear, we need to make sure we hit the ground running.
"You can't take a week or two to get back in the groove because, as we've seen so far this season, if you're five percent off, sides will jump you and roll you. Look at how tight and how condensed it is at the top of the ladder."
After losing two of their first three games, to Tallangatta and Chiltern, the Hawks have won their last four.
"Our group is well aware that the work we do this week needs to be really self-driven," Mudra said.
"Unfortunately, they can only work in pairs, so they need to make sure they pair up with guys who are really going to challenge them.
"We need to make sure that whenever the 'go button' gets pushed, we're right to go and we continue this really good momentum we've created."
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As things stand, the season will resume just over 36 hours after restrictions are lifted.
So are the Hawks prepared to go straight out and play?
"We have to be - and that was the messaging to the boys," Mudra said.
"It's as much mental as it is physical. If they say we play, we've got to be ready to go.
"We really called out the nuts and bolts of all of it (when we last met) so the boys are clear as to how the next week could potentially play out. We need to be ready to handle anything that gets thrown at us."
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