Hawthorn has hit Torquay for its pre-season camp, kicking things off with a training session at Deakin University at Waurn Ponds. 

Bannockburn local and former Geelong Falcons player James Worpel spoke to the media off the track.

We’ve summarised some of the key points he chatted about below.

On training in Geelong/Torquay

“It’s a bit bittersweet for me, I love coming home, but like you said we’re in a bit of enemy territory. We're down here for a few days in Torquay, enjoying the sun, so we're really keen to get into it. It is hot out there, we’ve got a big week ahead, we’re ramping up training this time of year, it’s always exciting getting into match play. The boys are looking fit, and the suns out so we’re all pretty happy. It’s the first time I’ve been down here for official training (with Hawthorn), but I've come down here myself to do some pre-season running. I get down to Geelong quite a bit to see some family so it’s good to be back."

On Coach Sam Mitchell’s return

“He’s looking really good, we’re happy to have him back and he’s recovering really well. It did (give us a bit of a scare), but probably for his family more so, we’re just happy he’s home and back coaching."

On the opening in the midfield  

“It’s pretty exciting, obviously it was a bit unfortunate with Will Day going down with a foot injury. But it gives the likes of Henry Hustwaite, Cam Mackenzie and Josh Ward all potentially to step up and fill his shoes. It’s anyone's spot at the moment, so it's exciting for those fellas. I think we’ve got a good core in there now with me, Jai Newcombe and Conor Nash and Day. We’re all pretty young, hopefully we can stay in there and none of our spots get taken by the younger boys. The midfield is stacked in there, there’s a lot of high draft picks and a lot of good players. This time of year it gets really competitive and we’re all fighting for some spots – but it’s good to get out there and tackle some of the boys and have some fun.'

On the goals for 2024

“We’re definitely looking to go up the ladder… we haven’t put a limit on anything we can achieve. We’ll take each week as it comes, and see how we go. The thing about our list is that a lot of our players have played between 50-100 games now so we are getting to more experience and games into young fellas. I think you’re going to start seeing a lot more consistent performances from us this year.”

Hear the full press conference with Worpel below.