Hawthorn's first to four year players returned on Monday for their first day of pre-season training. 

A total of 28 players made their return for day one, with 19 of them greeted with a Yo-Yo Test - an aerobic endurance fitness test, involving running between markers placed 20m apart, at increasing speeds until exhaustion.

Second-year Hawk Josh Weddle finished first, while Macdonald, Cam Mackenzie, Bailey Macdonald, Sam Butler and Finn Maginness call came equal-second, with Josh Ward in third place. 

Hear more of what Macdonald had to say following the first session back on the track below.

Who impressed day one?

"The boys have come back really fit. It was good to see Josh Weddle take it out, he came back flying - he's looking really good. He's come in and he's worked really hard and had a good first year. I think he's looking forward to building on that."

The early return of the senior players

"It was awesome to see several of those older guys back early for the first day, it's good for the younger boys and the club as well. It just shows that we're all buying in. When you see the likes of your Captain James Sicily coming back, earlier with the younger group of one to four years, it just sets the standards for the younger players pre-Christmas. We're looking forward to having those older guys in a couple of weeks and continuing to show us their leadership and where we can get to."

On the new recruits

"I get along really well with Jack Gunston, he's going to be awesome to come back with that experience in the forward line. We went to the same school, so we have some mutual people we know. It was sad when he went up to Brisbane for a fresh change, but it's great to see his face back around the club. He'll be really valuable for us in the forward line this year. Then you've got Jack Ginnivan coming in who has this real flare and excitement. We're really keen to have him in and see what he can do. Massimo D'Ambrosio is a really exciting half-back with that piercing left foot, we're really keen to see him on the track."

How he spent his off-season

"I got away really early, and was able to come back and get really fit. It was a credit to the younger group getting in early, we had a lot of boys doing sessions, we had a dozen players sometimes here at Waverley in the off-season completing sessions, so there is a lot of good buy in."

His goals for next year

"I want to get ultimately into the midfield - I want to work on my fitness and strength as well so I've sourced that externally and hope to build on that. I just want to make sure my skills are up to scratch and keep building on my athletic profile. I've played that high-half forward role for two years, I've really learnt a lot - it's been great to work alongside guys like Dylan Moore and the older guys. Ultimately I'll try and get into that midfield, whether thats a few centre bounces to start off with and then work my way up. But I think I have a good mix at the moment."

Expectations for 2024

"As a group we know where we are. This year we showed where we are capable of getting to - we're always striving to get higher up the ladder. We want to get to the top ultimately as quick as we can. I think the standards are a mainstay - a lot of the other boys are setting high standards. When you have a coach who's won four premierships, it's really easy for him to set those standards too for us."

Early break-out predictions

"You saw the likes of Will Day and Jai Newcombe really explode onto the scene this year and the past couple years and that's really set the tone. There are a few boys that are travelling really well, you've got the likes of Finn Maginness who is very fit, but I think Sam Butler has come back, he's finally got it right, injury free. I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes in the pre-season, I expect him to have a really good one. Cam Mackenzie has come back and has worked on his fitness, which he had to do and his come back and looked like his doing really well, with his skillset I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes, it's bright for him."

Watch the full press conference with Macdonald below.