North Warrnambool Eagles teenager Austin Sinclair says there is plenty of motivation for a big pre-season as the club plots to go one better next season.
The Eagles were back at Bushfield Recreation Reserve on Monday night for the first night of pre-season training following their 16-point loss to Koroit in the 2022 Hampden league senior grand final in September.
It will be a summer of dedication for the Eagles playing group, with the club also falling short in the reserves decider to South Warrnambool by two points.
Sinclair said September's loss would be a driving force for the Eagles heading into the 2023 season.
"There is definitely fire in the belly," Sinclair said. "The job's definitely not done. But definitely really excited to be back, I missed it so I hope everyone else did as well."
There is definitely fire in the belly. The job's definitely not done.- Austin Sinclair
The 19-year-old cemented his spot in the senior line-up in 2022 after playing the first four rounds in reserves.
Elevated in round five, Sinclair played every game for the remainder of the season and was among the best in three of the Eagles' four finals appearance including the grand final.
"I was pretty happy with that, it's a hard team to crack. It's a privilege to play," he said.
Along with a growing confidence in his own game, Sinclair trusts the playing group has the belief to make its way back to the final game of the season next year.
"There is a lot of belief in the club that we will if we desire to," he said. "We want to be back up there and I feel and I'm sure everyone else feels we can still be up there next year for sure."
He said the key was to make further progress as a playing group, with last season "character building".
Sinclair, who also plays division one cricket with North Warrnambool Eels, said he would look to add size to his frame over the pre-season as well as increase his fitness capacity.
"I felt like I wasn't as fit as I could have been," he said.
Growing up at the Eagles, where he had two older brothers play, Sinclair has been pleased to see the club, who is yet to win a senior Hampden league flag, rise up the ranks to become a top two side in recent years.
He credited the group's resiliency through the COVID-19 lock-downs and how close they have become as a playing group for recent success. And while a top two finish in both 2019 and 2022 is hardly a disappointing outcome, Sinclair said the team wants "to get to top one".
Addressing the group at their first training session, senior coach Adam Dowie challenged players to rise from last season's defeat. Players then started with a gym circuit before moving onto the oval for a skills sessions.
Have you signed up to The Standard's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in the south-west.