Round one couldn’t come quick enough.

Finishing out of the top six last season meant that pre-season rang a few weeks longer this year, and although the extra off-season break gave me an opportunity to freshen up, I think all my Hawthorn teammates would agree with me that our preference would be to return back to pre-season training as late as possible.

As playing finals footy is why we play the sport.

2017 marked the first time in my career where I haven’t played finals footy.

Whilst I was able to create some amazing memories with my partner Candice and our friends, watching teams run around in September who weren’t wearing brown and gold was not enjoyable what so ever.

Personally finals footy, and the friendships forged in the AFL, is what I play for.

Pleased to say the the coaching staff, led by Clarko, have been fantastic over the summer and in consultation with the players set the new direction we want to head towards.

isaac smith exclusive insight

It is also worth noting that the extra time in the off-season also gave me an opportunity to individually put in a strong block of training and work on some components to do with my conditioning.

I’m hopeful the additional fitness work will pay dividends for me as the premiership season progresses throughout the year.

With Hawthorn having performed at such a high level for so many seasons, an adjustment in trajectory was always going to be probable.

But a ““decline”, I expect not.

The buy-in from the playing group has been tremendous, and I’m looking forward to seeing the other 21 players take to the field this Saturday night against Collingwood.

Every Hawk on the list has really ripped in and is enjoying the challenges that presents itself.

History shows that you can learn from your mistakes, and I know we have a great opportunity to correct these as we head towards the first half of the 2018 AFL Season.

Bring on round one.