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Cyril expected to return within weeks

Marc McGowan  January 10, 2018 12:05 PM

Breust press conference in Moe Luke Breust spoke to the media at our open training session in Moe.

TRIPLE premiership Hawthorn star Luke Breust expects to have Cyril Rioli back at training "in the next few weeks" and alongside him in a reloaded forward line in 2018.

Rioli and fellow All Australian Grant Birchall were the only Hawks not to make the trek down to Moe on Wednesday for a training session in their Next Generation Academy heartland.

Rioli has been on compassionate leave in Alice Springs since November, after his father, Cyril jnr, suffered a heart attack in Grant Final week and later underwent surgery.

"We're still giving Cyril time," Breust told reporters.

"We expect him back at the club in the next few weeks and he'll just rejoin the group and continue to come in and train as normal."

Breust is one of a number of Hawthorn footballers looking to rebound from an underwhelming season in which the League powerhouse missed finals for the first time in eight years.

The 2014 All Australian's 33-goal return from 21 games was his lowest since his rookie season in 2011.

"I was a little bit disappointed in my season last year, so I'm looking forward to having a stronger season in 2018," Breust said.

"My body's feeling really good – it's probably the best start I've had to a pre-season in a number of years, so I'm really looking forward to the season.

"It was tough (dealing with criticism last year), but that's just routine media and AFL scrutiny you get these days.

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"You try and put that behind you, you stick together as a group, and you have a bit of a joke around it with a number of guys whose names were getting mentioned."

Rioli's looming return, as well as Jack Gunston's likely switch back to attack from half-back, is sure to make Breust's job easier.

He also forecast defensive revelation James Sicily and breakout forward Tim O'Brien to spend time at both ends of the ground this year.

The Hawks' positioning remains a talking point, with established stars Birchall, James Frawley and Ben Stratton expected to reclaim their backline posts after injury.

"I think that's a great strength of this group, that they can play multiple roles," Breust said.

"We had a number of guys who started forward last year and ended up finishing in the backline, so we'll wait and see, but I'm assuming it will be a similar forward line to what we had last year."

Breust also welcomed returned president Jeff Kennett's and the board's bold 2050 vision for the club to swell its premiership tally from 13 to 20 within that timeline.

The blueprint includes two of those flags within five years, and Hawthorn's resident sharpshooter hopes that begins with a top-four finish this coming season.

"I was sitting in the front row at the AGM that night and it's a bold statement, but one we feel as a club that it's better to put it out there and then work towards that," he said.

"We're backing it as a club, we're united behind that plan, whether that's the playing group, staff upstairs or the board – everyone's on the same page.

"Obviously last year was a disappointment to miss finals, (but) the good thing was we did get a lot of games into young guys."

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